'I'll Be Shouting For Her': Salsabil's Jockey Willie Carson Backing Tuesday For Irish Derby


Classic-winning jockey and breeder Willie Carson | Tattersalls/Laura Green


As Hollie Doyle so adeptly showed on Sunday, women can easily taken on men in racing, but it is a rare thing for a filly to tackle the colts in a Classic. There have however, been some notable successes, and when Tuesday (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) lines up for Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby she will be following in the hoofprints of her fellow Oaks winners, Salsabil (Ire) and Balanchine, who bounced from victory at Epsom to beating the boys on the Curragh.

Willie Carson was aboard the John Dunlop-trained Salsabil in 1990 when she got the better of that year's Derby winner Quest For Fame, among others, in cruising to success in the Irish Derby for her third Classic victory of the season. After winning the 1,000 Guineas then the Oaks, she became the first filly since Gallinaria (Ire) in 1900 to land the Irish Derby, and the first 1,000 Guineas and Oaks winner to have done so.

“The decision to run was Sheikh Hamdan's,” says Carson, casting his mind back more than three decades to two brilliant seasons for Salsabil. Bought by the sheikh from her breeder Pat O'Kelly, the daughter of Sadler's Wells was out of Kilcarn Stud's great matriarch Flame Of Tara (GB) (Artaius), who the year after she foaled Salsabil produced Marju (Ire) (Last Tycoon {Ire}), winner of the St James's Palace S. and runner-up to Generous (Ire) in the Derby. Among the mare's 11 winners were six black-type performers.

“I don't think John Dunlop would have had the inclination to run her in the Irish Derby. I remember that he wanted to go for the King George but Sheikh Hamdan said Irish Derby.”

Carson, who holds the unique distinction of having won the 200th Derby in England as a jockey on Troy (GB) and the 200th Derby in Ireland as a breeder with Jack Hobbs (GB), continues, “It was the easiest Classic winner I ever rode. I don't think I hit her with a stick, it was just hands and heels and she won so easily.

“Salsabil was a marvellous filly, she was in the top three fillies I rode. Sadly, Sheikh Hamdan didn't get anything as good out of her as she was herself. She was by the great Sadler's Wells from a really good family. Pat O'Kelly was breeding lots of good horses at that time.”

Certainly, Salsabil had everything in her favour on paper going into the Irish Derby, and she was also able to draw upon the excellent form of the man on her back. 

“I remember I rode 22 winners that week,” he says. “I was just on fire that week and I had six winners the day before on Northumberland Plate day. It was the best period of my riding career.”

Asked for his opinion of Tuesday being supplemented for the Irish Derby, he adds, “I suppose I was surprised but now they've done it I can see why they've done it. I wasn't surprised when Salsabil was entered; I was only the jockey and I did what I was told.”

Carson, whose Classic-winning exploits extend to having bred and ridden Minster Son (Ire) to glory in the St Leger of 1988, has extra reason to be interested in the career of Tuesday. At home in the paddocks of his Minster Stud is a recently acquired mare named Patronising (GB), who is a half-sister to Tuesday's dam Lillie Langtry (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) and shares her sire Galileo.

He says of Tuesday, “When she ran third in the Guineas she looked an out-and-out Oaks winner. Third, running on, in the Guineas is a great thing to be doing. Obviously Emily Upjohn (GB) looked unlucky in the Oaks and she might be slightly better than Tuesday, but Tuesday also didn't have the best of starts in the Oaks.

“I'll be shouting for her. The form says she really only has Westover (GB) to beat.”

Watch Salsabil and Willie Carson win the 1990 Irish Derby

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