Justify's City Of Troy Completes the Derby-Eclipse Double

City Of TroyBronwen Healy

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Well, he's clearly not Frankel, but City Of Troy (Justify–Together Forever {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}) at least stayed on a winning course as he provided more nervous tension than dazzle at Sandown on Saturday. Labouring rather than surging up the hill to the culmination of the G1 Coral-Eclipse, Ballydoyle's Derby hero proved that he had the grit to get the unique British double done as he ultimately satisfied the abundant odds-on takers. Connections were quick to admit that he had underwhelmed here, so we were again left with a sense of anti-climax as the stable's latest enigma keeps us guessing.

When you are 1-4 for a substandard Eclipse missing the likes of White Birch (GB) (Ulysses {Ire}) and Passenger (Ulysses {Ire}), you are in some ways on a hiding to nothing. Little went very wrong here, so the fact that he crossed the line just a length ahead of the largely inconspicuous 4-year-old Al Riffa (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) was certain to engender a degree of deflation. That was only enhanced by the close proximity of Ghostwriter (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), an undoubtedly talented 3-year-old but also one who had so far looked below the elite and who was reportedly also unsuited by the easing ground. He stayed in the fight until very late, before fading to be another length away in third.

Unlike Newmarket, where he roared off too fast before burning out, City Of Troy was able to saunter through the early stages of this test and retain energy for what turned out to be a surprisingly arduous finale. Lugging right towards the rail after taking over from his listed/group 3-class pacemaker Hans Andersen (GB) (Frankel {GB}) passing two out, Ballydoyle's beau ideal was briefly threatened by Joseph O'Brien's runner in the kind of slow-motion finale that this track can produce.

Ryan Moore admitted to being surprised at how the race panned out, but also offered a telling insight into his underlying faith in his mount. “I thought he'd win better than that–I thought he'd probably beat them by ten lengths to be honest with you and I wouldn't be surprised if he does it next time,” he revealed. “The ground is slower than he wants and I got it wrong–I took him up the middle, but he wanted go to the fence–and I never really got it out of him until I really had to, so I think there's a lot more in there.”

City Of Troy visibly lost his action turning into the straight and Moore went on to stress the importance of that incident. “I wasn't happy halfway around the bend, where the ground was a little bit loose and it took me a while to organise him and get him balanced after that, but he still got the job done and I thought he did well,” he added. “He never felt like he was going to get beat and he found plenty. We're still learning about him and there are a few things I'd do differently next time. He has an extravagant action and slow ground into a headwind is not easy–he'll be better in a higher-tempo race.”

Aidan O'Brien pointed to deteriorating ground conditions, which had earlier put paid to the participation of Jayarebe (Fr) (Zoffany {Ire}) and Stay Alert (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}). “We walked the course beforehand and it was soft, tough, deep ground,” he said after greeting his eighth Eclipse winner. “All fairness to the Lads–15 years ago they would have taken the horse out, but they enjoy their racing so much now and wanted to run him. It would have been easy to take him out and it was a long discussion before we ran.”

“He is a beautiful, good-ground horse and a real fast-ground mover so he has won today despite the ground. It was proper soft ground today, softer than when he won the Dewhurst last season–it was tough, specialist ground. I'd imagine the Lads will now look at the Juddmonte or Irish Champion Stakes before America. He could finish up in the Breeders' Cup Classic–that is what he is bred to be.”

John Magnier is not looking to shirk the Breeders' Cup Classic challenge any time soon. “We've tried it on several occasions and we all enjoy having a go,” he said. “Ballydoyle is founded on North American blood and it's a very important race for us. We want to try and do something a bit out of the ordinary, so whatever happens we'll keep trying to do it.”

“What Aidan and Ballydoyle think about him and see in the morning is just incredible and we want people to see it, so hopefully it'll happen before the end of the year,” he concluded. “I've been there watching him work and seen the times he does without being asked. We'll see what the next day brings.”

Joseph O'Brien was delighted with the effort of Al Riffa, who was getting back to the big time with much water having passed under the bridge since his success in the 2022 G1 Vincent O'Brien National Stakes. “I think we all thought for a moment he was going to make it interesting and he did,” he said. “It was a fantastic run and the first time he has had a bit of juice in the ground since the National Stakes. We'll probably make the rest of the season all about the Arc, which will be his main target. He should enjoy the mile and a half as his family is all stamina.”

Clive Cox said of Ghostwriter, “I am over the moon. It was a tremendous performance bar being beat and he has run with full credit. We are all very proud of him and he has tried very hard. We would appreciate slightly drier ground, but I am not making any excuses as he has still run a very solid race. I think a mile and a quarter is a perfect for him and Richard [Kingscote] agrees. He is in the Juddmonte and York is a track that I think he would enjoy.”

Pedigree Notes

City Of Troy's pedigree has been covered on many occasions, but it bears repeating that he is out of one of the many Galileo mares at Coolmore who have won at the highest level and who promise to serve Justify with the perfect turf class to complement his dirt prowess. Together Forever, whose big moment came in the G1 Fillies' Mile, is a full-sister to the Oaks heroine Forever Together (Ire) and a half to the G1 Prix Jean Prat-winning sire Lord Shanakill by another dirt sire in Speightstown.

Together Forever, who is related to the G1 Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Al Bahathri, the GI Yellow Ribbon Invitational winner Spanish Fern (El Gran Senor) and the GI Santa Anita Handicap hero Heatseeker (Ire) (Giant's Causeway), previously produced a trio of black-type performers by War Front including the G3 Tyros Stakes winner Military Style (War Front). Her 4-year-old Bertinelli by Justify took the London Gold Cup for this stable before going to Hong Kong to be third in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup.

Next up from Together Forever is the unraced 2-year-old filly by Uncle Mo named Takemetothemoon (Ire), while she also has a yearling filly by Dubawi (Ire) and a filly foal by Into Mischief.

Saturday, Sandown, Britain
CORAL-ECLIPSE-G1, £750,000, Sandown, 7-6, 3yo/up, 9f 209yT, 2:09.80, sf.
1–CITY OF TROY, 125, c, 3, by Justify
1st Dam: Together Forever (Ire) (G1SW-Eng & SW-Ire, $318,729), by Galileo (Ire)
2nd Dam: Green Room, by Theatrical (Ire)
3rd Dam: Chain Fern, by Blushing Groom (Fr)
TDN Rising Star. O-Mrs John Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith; B-Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt (KY); T-Aidan O'Brien; J-Ryan Moore. £425,325. Lifetime Record: 6-5-0-0, $2,120,730. *Full to Bertinelli, GSP-HK, $327,857; and 1/2 to Military Style (War Front), GSW-Ire; Absolute Ruler (War Front), GSP-Ire; and King Of Athens (War Front), SP-Ire. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Al Riffa (Fr), 135, c, 4, Wootton Bassett (GB)–Love On My Mind (Ire), by Galileo (Ire). (€31,000 Wlg '20 ARQDEC; 150,000gns Ylg '21 TATOCT). O-Al Riffa Syndicate; B-SARL de Chambure Haras d'Etreham, Benoit Chalmel & SARL Compagni (FR); T-Joseph O'Brien. £161,250.
3–Ghostwriter (Ire), 125, c, 3, Invincible Spirit (Ire)–Moorside (GB), by Champs Elysees (GB). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. (100,000gns Wlg '21 TADEWE). O-J C Smith; B-Norelands Bloodstock & Irish National Stud (IRE); T-Clive Cox. £80,700.
Margins: 1, 1, 5HF. Odds: 0.25, 11.00, 12.00.
Also Ran: See The Fire (GB), Hans Andersen (GB), Dancing Gemini (Ire). Scratched: Stay Alert (GB), Jayarebe (Fr).

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