The Irish Angle – Derby Day Special

Based at the Curragh for all three days of the Irish Derby meeting, our man Conor O’Hehir has plenty to say about the possible destination of today’s massive race plus the excellent supporting card.

Conor O’Hehir

Irish Derby Day

Today’s Irish Derby at the Curragh has all the ingredients to be a cracker. The first, second and fourth from Epsom all line up and it’s hard to split the three. Let’s hope we’re treated to a similar battle today.

Anthony Van Dyck got a lovely run up the rail at Epsom under Seamie Heffernan to win the Derby. He had a nice turn of foot at the end of the mile and a half to get the better of Madhmoon and Broome, both of whom reoppose today.

Ryan Moore was aboard Sir Dragonet in that Epsom Derby when finishing a close fifth, but he’ll be back board Anthony Van Dyck today, a horse he has tasted victory on already this season in the Lingfield Derby Trial.

The fairytale scenario would be Madhmoon winning for Kevin Prendergast at the remarkable age of 86. He’s come so close to winning the Irish Derby down through the years, and it would be bring the house down at the Curragh if Madhmoon could score today under Chris Hayes.

Madhmoon was probably the unlucky one at Epsom. He stumbled coming into Tattenham Corner and Chris Hayes said post-race it lit the horse up a bit and in turn he probably ended up in front too soon. In fairness, he battled on and held off the challenge of the Ballydoyle battalion in the middle of the track and was only undone by Anthony Van Dyck up the rail.

In my opinion I think he will operate best at a mile and a quarter, and I see him as a Champion Stakes horse for the end of the season, whether it be the Irish or English equivalent, My heart is saying Madhmoon, but my head is saying if the Ballydoyle team turn it into a true test of stamina he may find one too good again.

I think the one he may find too hot to handle is Broome. I envisage an end to end gallop with no hiding places and for this to be turned into a stamina sapping test. Broome was finishing possibly the strongest of the four in the centre of the track at Epsom having come from off the pace. He tends to take a while to hit top gear but I think the way the race will be run today will suit him.

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Donnacha O’Brien knows the horse well having ridden him in Epsom. He’ll be doing his best work late and is the one for me in this year’s Irish Derby.

Elsewhere on the card, we see the return of promising two year old Monarch Of Egypt in the Group Two Railway Stakes. He was very impressive in winning on debut at Naas early in the season, and had been as short as 7/2 antepost favourite for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He met with a setback however and returns today in this six furlong contest in which he has Ger Lyons’ promising Siskin to beat. Some of Lyons’ string haven’t been running well in recent weeks and I’m going to give a tentative vote for Monarch Of Egypt. He is having his first run back but I still think he can be good enough to score for O’Brien and Moore.

There are plenty of competitive handicaps on the supporting card and in one of those one that sticks out at a price is Saltonstall. He was a course and distance winner last year off a mark of 98, before heading to Ascot where he was well fancied in the Royal Hunt Cup when trained by Mick Halford.

He’s had four runs now for new trainer Ado McGuinness, for whom has shown very little up ‘til now, but on his last run behind Jassaar he showed  a glimmer of promise. He’s down to a mark of 89 and can run a big race off that perch today with the in-form Ronan Whelan in the saddle.

Derby Festival So Far

Yesterday at the Curragh we saw a potential Irish Oaks winner when Joseph O’Brien’s Iridessa powered clear to take the Pretty Polly Stakes under Wayne Lordan. The Ruler Of The World filly relished the step up and trip and was an impressive winner of the Group One, meaning it’s all systems go for a return to this venue in three weeks for the Oaks.

The elder brigade in the jockeys’ room were in flying form on Friday at the Curragh. Now 50 years of age, Niall McCullagh notched a double aboard Crafty Madam and Agent Zigzag, while 52 year old Kevin Manning landed the Group Two Curragh Cup with a top class front running ride on six year old Twilight Payment. Add to that Frankie Dettori’s Ascot exploits last week and you get the sense there’s plenty left in the three lads.

Jessie Harrington has some promising two year olds on her hands once again this season. She took the group two Airlie Stud Stakes with the fast finishing Albigna. Add to that her Thursday maiden winner Windracer which did it nicely under Shane Foley. She looks to have a decent team of juveniles assembled and they’re worth following for the rest of the season.

Selections

4.05 Curragh – 0.5pts each way Saltonstall

4.40 Curragh – 2pts win Monarch Of Egypt

5.20 Curragh – 2pts win Broome

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