Various versions of The Irish Derby have been run on The Curragh since 1817, but it only assumed it’s present format in 1872. It remained a pretty local affair until 1962 when The Irish Hospital’s Sweepstake took up sponsorship of the event and virtually overnight became one of the major heats in the international racing calendar. The standout statistic in the race is undoubtedly Aidan O’Brien’s 12 victories (starting with
Desert King in 1997) a truly fantastic record, but spare a thought for Curragh trainer, Dermot Weld who with considerably less ammunition at his disposal has landed the prize 3 times, (last win Harzand 2015) and he goes to war this time with the beautifully bred Rakan.
He is by the 2009 Derby winner, Sea The Stars, out of the top class mare, Tarfasha who besides winning at Group2 level finished 2nd to Taghrooda in the 2014 Oaks, and her half brother, Galileo Light, finished 2nd in the 2013 Irish Derby, and 3rd in
The Doncaster St Leger, a pretty impressive pedigree guaranteeing, if nothing else, that Rakan won’t fail for lack of stamina. Indeed it was only when stepped up to 12f last time that he showed his true colours, winning by 3/4L from last week’s Royal Ascot runner up Barbados, (beaten 1/2L in the Group2 Queen’s Vase). He runs in the same colours as Sheik Hamdan’s other runner, the better fancied, Mahdmoon, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t running just to make up the numbers.
The Derby Hero, Anthony Van Dyck, (Oddsguru’s selection) and stable companion,
Broome, who finished 4th at Epsom, 3/4L behind the winner do look the best of the Ballydoyle runners, and Ryan Moore, who needs a win in The Irish Derby to complete a clean sweep of all the English and Irish Classics will be hoping he picks the right mount this time, (rode the 5th home, Dragonet, at Epsom).
Anthony Van Dyck (pictured), is by Galileo, out of the Exceed And Excel mare, Believe N’Succeed, whose best previous offspring is the talented Australian sprinter Bounding, so connections must have been relieved when he demonstrated stamina aplenty, to win the Lingfield Derby Trial on soft ground. He had to call on similar reserves when winning The Derby, and like most of the best horses, he seems to handle any ground. It will come as quite a surprise if Ryan isn’t aboard this time, and he should confirm his superiority over Broome.
Whether that superiority is confirmed over the Epsom runner up, Madhmoon, though, is certainly open to conjecture. He was only beaten 1/2L and one has to wonder how much his chance was compromised when he clipped heels and stumbled 4 furlongs out. He did really well to regain his balance on Epsom’s difficult camber and battled on with great reseloution to pip the impressive winner of last week’s Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, Japan, for 2nd Place. Veteran handler, Kevin Prendergast, has won 7 Classics on the Curragh but unlike his famous Dad, “Darkie” who won the Irish Derby on 4 occasions has yet to score in Ireland’s premier Classic. There would certainly be no more popular winner if Madhmoon does manage to bring home the bacon.
That other veteran on the Irish Racing scene, Jim Bolger, has won two Derby’s on the Curragh in his stellar career and certainly won’t be without hope of landing a third when his son of Teofilo, Guaranteed, goes to post on Saturday. Campaigned mostly around a mile he showed his best form to date when beating the 111 rated 7yo,
River Light over 10f at The Curragh 22 days ago. There are mixed messages from his pedigree as his dam, Gearani, who was pretty useless on the racecourse, has produced 3 decent offspring all of whom have been best at distances short of 12f but his sire, Teofilo, (trained by Jim) gets plenty of middle distance winners including Mr Bolger’s winner of the 2013 renewal of Saturday’s contest, Trading Leather. Guaranteed needs to improve but there are indications in his pedigree that the step up in distance might well bring about a serious step forward.
Selection. : Anthony Van Dyck
EW. : Rakan