The Irish Derby weekend has landed and it all started quite nicely yesterday – Algonquin was a fine winner @ 5/1. This week is a huge boost so far after a disastrous Royal Ascot. But that’s the good thing about racing: You can have a hard time but two winners later you’re very much back on track.
So today, Irish Derby Day! Some serious racing on offer at the Curragh. The sun is out, the ground is fast, the Derby poses an 8-runner strong field and the supporting card is sensational. Let’s try to find some winners!
4.10 Curragh: Summer Fillies Handicap, 7f
Three year old Military Angel should go close. She was unlucky the last time at Naas in Listed company and may be ahead of her mark. But she is small in size and this is not exactly a small field. Fighting for position is not her strongest asset, so I oppose her at a price that looks fair, but nothing more.
Colour Blue is a consistent filly. She should run her race. On a fair mark at the moment but others are better handicapped. Slipper Orchid may struggle of top weight, while Duchess Andorra is very progressive but has to overcome a 10lb rise in the mark for her most recent success at Gowran Park.
That day she beat Dermot Weld’s Sparkle Factor in second. This lightly raced four year old makes plenty of appeal. She should come on from her seasonal debut at she travelled really well and got just bit tired in the end, beaten by a fit and well handicapped rival. She came well clear of the rest of the pack nonetheless and is only one pound higher today.
She loves the ground and the trip, has a CD win on her CV and looked to win a Listed race at Killarney last year, when she travelled much the best but found the 1m trip a bit too far in the end. She looks progressive and well handicapped here today.
Sparkle Factor @ 13/2 Coral – 5pts Win
4.45 Celebration Stakes (Listed), 1m
Nice little field, really competitive race. Looking very much forward to see how it pans out. I guess you know what you get with most of these runners. That says War Envoy is a poor favourite in my mind. Yes, he was probably well in at Ascot the other day, but now back in Listed class, he isn’t certain to follow up by any means.
I like progressive Tennessee Wildcat, but feel a track like Leopardstown suits him much better than the open, wide space at the Curragh. Bolger’s Flight Risk proved his 50/1 shocker in a Group 3 earlier this year was no flash in the pan. While Sovereign Debt may find this trip at this track beyond him. Though quick conditions should suit.
The one unexposed and potentially underestimated individual is Shepherd’s Purse. He was a bit unlucky in a hot Group 3 at Leopardstown nine days ago when the route on the inside was clearly not the one to glory. He had only five starts to date, won on his debut in taking style here at the Curragh last season, was subsequently far from disgraced when 4th behind Cappella Sansevero in a Group 3 but didn’t handle soft ground in his next two outings.
Quick ground today is very much what he wants. He has seemingly trained on and physically improved from two to three and travelled strongly the last time until meeting in-running trouble. He’s a very big runner today with the weight for age allowance – if he stays the trip. It’s far from given on pedigree. Although not impossible. At 15/2 he’s a price I feel is too big and I give him the benefit of the doubt.
Shepherd’s Purse @ 15/2 Betfred – 5pts Win
Handicap (3YO plus), 1m
Plenty of interesting runners. Favourite Hasanour is expected by many to run a big race. He probably will do so but has to overcome a big hike in the mark. Others appeal more to me. I like Ger Lyons’s Trinity Force. Reportedly he had a wind op over the winter which seemed to have helped as he looked good over 7f this year. Ground and trip may suit. Bolgers maiden winner is another interesting prospect.
But for a price I select Burn The Boats to go well. He has a strong record over this trip and needs fast ground and a fast pace to see him to best effect. He’s 2lb above his last winning mark but has shown some fair form this year. He was certainly not advantaged at Dundalk on his penultimate start when he travelled much the best but got a run too late. He wasn’t disgraced in Listed company at Navan when seen the last time either.
It’s a tough race, others might be better handicapped and he heeds things to fall right. But at 20/1 Burn The Boats is certainly a price to have an interest in. If he gets a clear run then I expect him to be bang there when it matters.
Burn The Boats @ 20/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win
5.50 Curragh: Irish Derby (Group 1) 1m 4f
Despite half the field trained by Aiden O’Brien, this is one of the better line-ups for the Irish Derby in recent years. Epsom Derby runner-up Jack Hobbs comes here as the clear favourite and takes all the beating if he can bring his A game to the plate today.
Storm The Stars was third at Epsom, though a long way behind Jack Hobbs. He finished the race well enough, but you wonder if he isn’t more of a Leger type? He would need a soft lead today to have a real chance to win I feel.
Giovanni Canaletto was fourth in the Derby, he ran okay but not as good as many would have hoped. Though the big race may came a bit too soon for this inexperienced full-brother to Ruler Of The World. He remains with potential for improvement. His comeback run when runner-up to subsequent Riblesdale winner Curvy looked disappointing back in the day but turns out to be very strong form. In my eyes he’s Ballydoyle’s number one today.
However a shorter price is stable mate Highland Reel. Yes, I was eagerly awaiting his seasonal reappearance, hoping he could develop into the superstar he promised to be after exciting performances as a juvenile. He didn’t quite fulfil these hopes. A poor French Guineas run, followed by a much improved runner-up effort in the French Derby. Nonetheless I feel he is not as good a three year old as he was a juvenile and I fail to see how the 12f trip will bring out any more improvement.
Dermot Weld’s charge Radanpour is a fairly progressive individual. Though his dead heat in a listed event three weeks ago doesn’t inspire me. You’d be disappointed if he’d come out on top today. Same goes for Kilimanjaro, who’s simply not good enough.
Surprise Oaks winner Qualify is a different proposition. She is really progressive and I don’t think her Epsom success was a fluke. She is that good. She needs a fast pace and then stays all day long. Not sure if these conditions are given today, but she can’t be underestimated.
But the value lies with Giovanni Canaletto in my mind. He has a lot to find with the odds-on favourite on the Epsom Derby form, but it is far from unlikely that there is more improvement to come from him. He is a lovely looking individual, raw but inexperienced. Epsom could bring him along nicely for the Irish Derby, so at 12/1 I side with him.
Giovanni Canaletto @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts win
7.15 Curragh: Handicap (60-100), 2m
It was utterly impressive the way Sang Tiger made up ground late at Leopardstown recently when he had clearly the run of the race against himself. He came from a near impossible position to score cosily in the end.
He’s five pounds higher today but not too exposed yet, so he may be able to overcome this new mark. Quick ground is what he likes, and despite an ultra competitive field, he has as good a chance as anybody here and is a rather big price.
Sang Tiger @ 10/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win