Captain Dunne dashes home in front at Epsom

The supporting card on Derby day may not be as strong as that of Oaks day but the Investec Dash is always a thrilling spectacle, with a large field of sprinters tearing downhill over what must be the fastest five furlongs in world racing.


The admirably tough Captain Dunne won this year’s harem-scarem battle, atoning for his narrow defeat in the race two years ago and another, more recently, in the G3 Prix de Saint-Georges on May 15, when he lost out by a nose to Inxile. He is one of a burgeoning string of horses running in the colours of the successful Middleham Park Racing syndicate.

Captain Dunne’s Derby day victory brought up an Anglo-Scottish sprint double for his sire Captain Rio, whose four-year-old son Burning Thread won Musselburgh’s Scottish Sprint Cup for owner/trainer Tim Etherington. Burning Thread’s family boasts plenty of speed, his dam Desert Rose being a half-sister to the good juvenile sprinter Soar and by July Cup winner Green Desert.

Captain Rio, a resident of Joe Foley’s Ballyhane Stud, has earned a reputation as a sire whose stock fare better in softer conditions, just as he did himself, with his best performance being an eight-length win in the G2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte, run over a heavy 1200m in 2001. This was not the case for Captain Dunne and Burning Thread, however, with each of their victories at the weekend both recorded on good to firm ground.

A son of Pivotal, Captain Rio is out of Beloved Visitor, by Miswaki, who also appears as the broodmare sire of stallions Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy, Sea The Stars, Hernando, Dr Fong and Lucky Story. He retired to stud in 2004, with Captain Dunne, now six, a member of his first crop, which also included Group 3 winners Capt Chaos and Philario, and French Listed winner Hopes And Fears.

Red Badge, Agony And Ecstasy, Corcovada and the aforementioned Burning Thread, winner of last season’s Listed Scurry Stakes at Sandown, have added to his tally of northern hemisphere stakes winners, while in New Zealand, where he carries out shuttling duties at Westbury Stud, his black type horses have included a brace of Group 1 winners, Il Quello Veloce and the Victoria Oaks heroine Brazilian Pulse.

Just as his success at stud is not restricted entirely to sprinters, nor does it come just on the flat. Captain Rio is also the sire of the Grade 1-winning hurdlers Hollo Ladies and Jumbo Rio, both of whom, unsurprisingly, boast a reasonably stout damline, with Hollo ladies being out of an Old Vic mare and Jumbo Rio from a daughter of Darshaan.