Frozen Fire with Seamus Heffernan up head for the winner's enclosure after the 2008 Irish Derby.
2008 Irish Derby Results
The 1.5 million euro (about $2.35 million U.S.) Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) is the richest race in Ireland. A field of twelve 3-year-olds contested at the classic distance of 1 1/2 miles at the Curragh racecourse on Sunday June 29, with Tartan Bearer sent off as the even-money choice exiting a close second place finish in the Epsom Derby. In to challenge the Sir Michael Stoute trainee were 4-1 second choice Casual Conquest, third at Epsom for trainer Dermot Weld, and 7-1 third choice Alessandro Volta, owned by Michael Tabor and trained by Aidan O'Brien, a distant sixth at Epsom.
Frozen Fire wins the 2008 Irish Derby.
66-1 longshot Hindu Kush went to the front to set the pace under jockey David McCabe while being stalked by 12-1 Washington Irving, with Alessandro Volta, 150-1 Bashkirov, and 300-1 longest shot Upton Grey not far behind. Turning for home with a half mile remaining, Hindu Kush and Upton Grey tired and dropped from contention, allowing Alessandro Volta to take over the lead into the long 3/8 mile uphill homestretch. Jockey John Murtagh asked Alessandro Volta at the top of the lane and he responded, opening up a clear lead at the 1/4 pole. Favorite Tartan Bearer, who raced in mid-pack early, moved up to challenge on the outside. At the 3/16 pole Alessandro Volta bore out into the path of Tartan Bearer, pushing the favorite further out and impeding his momentum. 16-1 Frozen Fire, who was at the back of the field down the backstretch, moved to the center of the course under jockey Seamus Heffernan for running room and easily took over at the 1/16 pole, drawing away to win by 2 lengths over late-running Casual Conquest in 2:31.90 over the course rated good-to-yielding. It was another head back to Alessandro Volta third, and 1/2 more to favorite Tartan Bearer fourth. Because of the interference in the stretch, the stewards disqualified Alessandro Volta and placed him fourth behind Tartan Bearer.
Trophy presentation for the 2008 Irish Derby with one of the owners, John Magnier, on the right.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien, winning his third straight Irish Derby and sixth overall, said, "This is marvelous. The race was a full, solid mile and a half and there are no excuses. All of ours have run great races, but I think Alessandro Volta got stage-fright when he turned into the straight and he wouldn't have seen a crowd like that in front of him before. Frozen Fire was second in the Dante but got trapped back in the Derby. Mick Kinane came in and said he was very happy with him and that he was a very good horse. All we wanted was an even, strong gallop and this is great for everyone involved as there are so many people in the team who make this happen. This is a very special race and The Curragh is probably the greatest racecourse in the world as it is a very fair track and really tests a horse over a mile and a half."
Seamus Heffernan celebrates aboard Frozen Fire after winning the 2008 Irish Derby
Jockey Seamus Heffernan, winning his second Irish Derby in a row, said, "His second last run was a serious run and he just didn't handle the track at Epsom last time - he probably would have gone close if he had. I was riding him to try to get placed and he is a bit weak but I was happy to get a lead and follow some of the fancied ones. It's unbelievable to win this two years in a row, it's a dream."
Dermot Weld, trainer of second place finisher Casual Conquest, said, "It is very frustrating. We have been second in five Group Ones now, but man and beast have given their all. It was a brilliant ride by Pat (Smullen) to produce him with a winning chance. The horse is coming forward every day and we'll now look at the Irish Champion Stakes and the Arc."
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of third place finisher and beaten favorite Tartan Bearer, said, "We were carried halfway across the course and it certainly didn't help. (Alessandro Volta) pushed on and on to us and that didn't help."
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The Curragh - the headquarters of racing in Ireland since 1741.