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Former champion jockey Kieren Fallon on the week's hot topics

Capri and pannellist Seamie Heffernan return in triumph after their battling Irish Derby victory
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In light of the Irish Derby, how do you rate this year’s Classic generation of colts?

Phil Cunningham, owner
I thought Cracksman looked as though he was going to get there at the Curragh, but how tough was Capri? The strength in depth that Ballydoyle has this year is nothing short of amazing and again it’s all about one stallion. We’d love to have just one Galileo in our yard!

Kieren Fallon, former champion jockey
I think Seamie Heffernan nicked it off the front on Capri, but if you ran the race ten times over I still think the same horse would have won. Some people will say Ryan Moore should have done this and Pat Smullen the other, but the best horse won. It’s a shame that Wings Of Eagles has been retired, but I reckon Cracksman could well be a St Leger horse.

James Fanshawe, trainer
There doesn’t seem to be an outstanding middle-distance colt who stays – even Ryan Moore finds it hard to choose the right one! I think the milers are up to scratch. Churchill had a blip at Royal Ascot but he’s a good colt.

Seamie Heffernan, jockey
The Epsom Derby always has its critics but usually the horses who run well in the race go on and win many of the better races during the season. That was the case in the Irish Derby this weekend and I wouldn’t be cribbing about the quality of the age group.

Richard Horner, Sky Bet odds compiler
They look a below-average bunch at this stage and it’s disappointing after Churchill’s Ascot defeat that we don’t have a star three-year-old. With two close finishes in the English and Irish Derbys there appears to be no outstanding performer at this stage. Hopefully that may change after the Eclipse on Saturday.

Where do you rank Railway Stakes winner Beckford among the two-year-olds?

Phil Cunningham, owner
What a display by Beckford. A super performance from another two-year-old bought by Bobby and Mouse O’Ryan.  US Navy Flag and Haddaf, 14th and 17th in the Coventry, both won by around four lengths on Saturday to frank the form of the Ascot race, which we won with Rajasinghe.

Kieren Fallon, former champion jockey
I think Beckford is a nice horse but not as nice as Aidan O’Brien’s Chesham winner September, who is out of Peeping Fawn, a serious filly herself and the one of the best I’ve ever ridden. One under the radar is Sir Michael Stoute’s Expert Eye, who won while nobody was looking at Newbury the other day.

James Fanshawe, trainer
It’s difficult when there’s such a variation in the ground, but he’s unbeaten in two starts and clearly promising – we’d all be grateful if his trainer Gordon Elliott stuck to jumping!

Beckford: the Gordon Elliott-trained colt has solid claims of winning the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes

Seamie Heffernan, jockey
You’d have to be impressed by his performance. He did it well, beating some smart rivals. We have plenty of top trainers in Ireland and Gordon Elliott is certainly one of them. We all know what he has done in the jumping game and now he’s making his presence felt on the Flat.

Richard Horner, Sky Bet odds compiler
He has to be right up there with the best seen so far. His maiden win has worked out well and he took the step up to Group 2 company in his stride on Saturday, winning what looked a good renewal beforehand in good style. He looks sure to have a big say in the Phoenix Stakes next month.

Was it right to keep racing at the Curragh through renovation?

Phil Cunningham, owner
I think so. The track looked unaffected over the weekend and it messes with the stats so much when big races are forced to relocate. The only one that was the same was when they had racing on the July course while they were building the new grandstand on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.

Kieren Fallon, former champion jockey
I think perhaps it should have followed the same route as Royal Ascot who switched the meeting to York while it was being redeveloped a few years ago. Many people said it wouldn’t work but it was a big success and it still races on the round track which was put in especially. As one of the two best races in Ireland I think the Irish Derby should have been run at Leopardstown.

James Fanshawe, trainer
It’s great that the Curragh is being renovated and it’s easy to criticise after the event, but Ascot went to York when it was redeveloping and Longchamp went to Chantilly and they were the right calls. And I remember going to the Derby with Environment Friend when they were re-doing Epsom and it was awful! 

Seamie Heffernan, jockey
Absolutely. The Curragh is an exceptional racecourse and a very good and true test for three-year-olds over a mile and a half. I’ve no doubt that it is the only place where the Irish Derby should be run and I’ve no problem with the decision to race on through the redevelopment programme.

Richard Horner, Sky Bet odds compiler
For connections and the horses, yes, as the Curragh is a very fair test. But for the public, no. I was at York on Saturday when nearly 40,000 people attended and the atmosphere was superb, so to have just over 5,000 for Ireland’s Derby is not good for the sport, stopping a lot of people attending who wanted to be there.

What impact can Plate winner Higher Power have at Group level?

Phil Cunningham, owner
I think he can cut it at Group level later this year and will be a nice horse for next. It was a comfortable victory from a lightly raced horse in a competitive running this year. Super training performance from James Fanshawe and perfect ride from Tom Queally.

Kieren Fallon, former champion jockey
I didn’t fancy Higher Power that much as there was a lot of chat about Brian Ellison’s horse, but there was no doubt about the result. Tom Queally has a great pair of hands and I was delighted for him, as well as James Fanshawe, as they had a great trip round. There’s no doubt he could handle a step up in class the way he was going away at the finish.

Higher Power and Tom Queally win the Northumberland Plate. 'There's no doubt he can handle a step up in class,' says Kieren Fallon

James Fanshawe, trainer
I hope so! He stays two miles really well and he’s got a good cruising speed, so we’re hoping for a good autumn campaign. He ran very well on quick ground at Sandown but he goes on the slower ground, which Big Orange doesn’t.

Seamie Heffernan, jockey
When five-year-old’s show improvement at this time of the year, they often continue to progress and I see no reason why Higher Power won’t go on and do well in some of the top staying races. Tom Queally is an old pal of mine and I’m delighted for him that he bagged another big prize.

Richard Horner, Sky Bet odds compiler
With only 12 starts he could still have some improvement and he produced a gutsy win off 107 on Saturday. He was firmly put in his place, though, by Big Orange at Sandown, so a victory at the top level will be tough. Hopefully he can pick up a Group race somewhere. His style of fairly prominent racing in a big field could be suited to a Melbourne Cup.

Give us a horse to follow for the second half of the season

Phil Cunningham, owner
Richard Fahey’s two-year-old filly Dance Diva. I was taken with her at Newmarket on Saturday when she won a Group 3 comfortably. She is unbeaten and has been impressive in all three runs. She also looks like she has a bit of scope so could be even better later on. Of our own horses, the unraced Little Lord Conford has a big future.

Kieren Fallon, former champion jockey
I was hoping to see Sir Michael Stoute’s Khairaat win at Royal Ascot as he looked like a Group horse when winning at Chester in May. I don’t think he was quite right that day and the ground will have been quick enough, but I wouldn’t give up on him yet as he’s with a master with these older horses.

James Fanshawe, trainer
Tribute Act is a nice scopey filly, owned and bred by the Elite Racing Club and a half-sister to Ribbons. We’re just creeping away with her at the moment but I hope she’s one to follow.

Dance Diva looks one to follow, says owner Phil Cunningham

Seamie Heffernan, jockey
I rode a two-year-old filly named Sizzling at the Curragh on Friday night. She was making her debut and ran a very nice race to finish third. She should be winning a maiden before long and I think she could go on to better things before the end of the season. While he’s not a horse, I’d be keeping an eye on Joseph O’Brien. He’s going places.

Richard Horner, Sky Bet odds compiler
Orion’s Bow was very unlucky in the Gosforth Park Cup on Friday night and he is on a winnable mark of just 1lb higher than when a close second in last year’s Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood. If his mark is preserved until then the 20-1 on offer will look very big on the day.

Who do you fancy for the Coral-Eclipse?

Phil Cunningham, owner
I hope and think Eminent will win it. He’s a super horse and is now running over what looks the ideal trip. The horse has been put by for this and he has a great team behind him. Assistant trainer Freddie Meade is one of the nicest lads you could meet on the gallops.

Kieren Fallon, former champion jockey
I won the Eclipse twice, including on Oratorio in 2005 when I beat the self-proclaimed greatest rider in the world Johnny Murtagh on Motivator. I know it’s a bit boring, but this year I would like to ride Barney Roy in the race as I’ve liked him since he won the Greenham. If he doesn’t run then Eminent could be the one back to a mile and a quarter. 

James Fanshawe, trainer
It didn’t look as though Cliffs Of Moher stayed the trip with the fast pace in the Derby. He looked like winning easily only to be caught on the line and he’ll be suited by coming back to a mile and a quarter. Most of the older horses in the betting ran at Ascot and he didn’t, which will help him.

Seamie Heffernan, jockey
Cliffs Of Moher ran very well when second in the Derby and I think dropping down two furlongs in distance will be right up his street. It’s a tough task for a three-year -old who has run in the Derby, but I expect him to run a big race.

Richard Horner, Sky Bet odds compiler
Cliffs Of Moher appears to be the O’Brien chosen one for this and they will likely make sure there is a strong pace for him. It seemed telling that even though they had just won the Epsom Derby the Coolmore team seemed disappointed that it wasn’t by Cliffs Of Moher, who they obviously think is the best of theirs. He would be my choice at around 100-30.

If you ran the race ten times over I still think the same horse would have won
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