O'Brien's sixth Derby the highlight
Aidan O'Brien won his sixth Derby at Epsom on Saturday, but certainly not with the one expected as Wings of Eagles (40/1) swooped late from the back of the field to nab his more fancied stablemate, Cliffs of Moher (5/1).
This was a dream success for journeyman jockey, Pádraig Beggy, on his first ride in the race, and only his seventh ride of the season. He spends much of his time riding work at Ballydoyle and was thrilled with this victory.
Jimmy Fortune (Ferns) is on the injured list and was unable to take up his first ride in the Epson Derby for six years; James Doyle replaced him on Glencadam Glory and finished midfield.
On Friday, O'Brien and his Ballydoyle team overcame serious transport problems to get to Epsom just in time for racing, but hot favourite Rhododendron (6/5), an unlucky second in the 1,000 Guineas, was second again in The Oaks, to Frankie Dettori on Enabled, and there were no excuses this time.
O'Brien and Ryan Moore did get some compensation when Highland Reel (9/4) romped home in the Group 1 Coronation Cup.
However, the hopes of a clean sweep of the ten classics in Britain and Ireland are dashed for another year.
On the home front, Seán Flanagan and Jonathan Moore had a winner each at both Ballinrobe and Punchestown on Tuesday and Wednesday.
At the picturesque Mayo venue, Flanagan won the €16,000 novice hurdle aboard Is She Diesel (7/2) for Seamus Fahey, the horse following up on a victory there the evening before, while Moore won the maiden hurdle with Penance for Tom Gibney, the 10/1 shot holding off Ruby Walsh on a Willie Mullins favourite.
On Wednesday Moore went to Punchestown for one ride, again for Gibney, and made it a winner, scoring on Robin De Roost (9/1) in a tight finish. This gave the pair a 110/1 double over the two nights.
Flanagan gave a great ride to Ladysingstheblues (3/1) to win the maiden hurdle for Noel Meade from 6/5 favourite, Arbor Des Champs. Flanagan looked beaten two out but they rallied after the last to win comfortably.
Pat McDonald (Taghmon) put in a lot of miles around Britain last week but did have four winners to show for it. Pat Dobbs (Enniscorthy) began the week at Leicester on Monday with a long-priced winner, Frank Bridge (16/1), for Eve Johnson Houghton.
On Tuesday, Pat McDonald ran out a clear winner on New Society (8/1) for Jim Bethell at Redcar. He kept up his recent good form with a double from three rides at Ayr on Wednesday, on Gworn (11/4) for R.M. Smith and Sabador (9/4f) for Ed Walker.
Dobbs got on the board again at Kempton on hot-shot Ripoll for Sylvester Kirk, his only ride of the night.
He went to Lingfield and Chelmsford on Thursday for single rides, and a second on Tobacco Road for David Pipe was the only reward.
Pat McDonald drove 160 miles from his home in North Yorkshire to ride three at Hamilton in the afternoon and finished third on each of them; he then drove over 140 miles to Newcastle for three more which were all unplaced, and then back home - a total of over 360 miles in the day. You certainly need stamina to be a jockey.
Tom O'Brien went to Market Rasen for one ride on Friday and duly won on Starfoot (9/4), while McDonald's luck improved as he won on one of his two rides at Doncaster, aboard Burnt Sugar (8/1) for Roger Fell, after two fruitless rides at Catterick in the afternoon.
It was an unusual blank weekend for Wexford connections.