Aussie connection in Irish Derby

Australian bred mare Porto Roca was a Group 1 winner of the 2001 Coolmore Stakes at Rosehill and she will enter the record books as the dam of a Group 1 winner if Monterosso salutes in the 2010 Irish Derby this Sunday.

Sheikh Hamdan paid a 150,000 euros (AUD 210,175) late-entry fee for Monterosso after the promising colt won the G2 King Edward VII Stakes (2400m) at Royal Ascot last week.

Monterosso (3c Dubawi – Porto Roca by Barathea) is trained by Mark Johnston and he will be up against Ballydoyle colts Jan Vermeer, At First Sight, Midas Touch, Cape Blanco and Bright Horizon at the Curragh..  “The horse is very well,” Johnston said.  “I’ve supplemented horses in the past and will be on tenterhooks until Sunday.”

Monterosso is as low as 3-1 to end Ballydoyle’s domination of the Irish Derby.  Aidan O’Brien is seeking his eighth classic at the Curragh and the fifth in a row.  Ballydoyle colt Jan Vermeer, who finished fourth in the English Derby, is the general 2-1 favourite.  

Porto Roca was bred by Queenslanders Peter Moran and Ron Gilbert and she helped Danny O’Brien break into the big league with a Group 1 victory in the Coolmore Stakes.  She also won a Winter Stakes at Eagle Farm when it was still a Group 3 event.

At stud, Porto Roca foaled the winners Seven Stars (King’s Best), Via Corone (Zeditave) and Elusive Port (Elusive Quality) before being exported to Europe in December 2005.  Monterosso is her first northern hemisphere foal and he was followed by a Tiger Hill colt.

Monterosso continued the rich vein of form for Dubawi.  The Darley sire has also been represented by this year’s classic winners Worthadd (Italian Derby & 2000 Guineas) and Makfi (English 2000 Guineas).

Dubawi is a son of Dubai Millennium and was Europe’s first-season champion last year with 34 individual winners.  Darley is giving him a year off shuttling duties to Australia in 2010.