CURRAGH Sun: It’s Irish Derby Day at the Curragh this Sunday and as well as the premier Classic of the season there’s a strong supporting card, including the Group 2 Railway Stakes, two listed contests and five Premier Handicaps.
⭕ The action begins with what looks a fascinating contest with the Group 2 Railway Stakes (1:50pm) over 6f. I Am Invictus found only Royal Ascot Chesham runner-up Diamonds And Rubies too good last time out at Naas but this step up in trip may leave him vulnerable once again. Unquestionable is Ryan Moore’s pick of the three Aidan O’Brien runners and has to be respected after an impressive win last time. However, it’s Bucanero Fuerte that brings the best form into this on the back of his close third behind River Tiber – perhaps Aidan O’Brien’s best two-year-old – in the Coventry Stakes when last seen and he is taken to go two better.
⭕ Race two is the Listed Dash Stakes (2:25pm), again over 6f. The Michael Dods-trained Commanche Falls tops the ratings and is a strong performer at this kind of level, but it may be worthwhile taking a chance that Twilight Jet can leave his seasonal reappearance well behind. Michael O’Callaghan’s runner was a Group 3 winner as a three-year-old and while he finished well down the field in the Group 2 Greenland Stakes at the Curragh when last seen, the combination of this drop in class and that experience under his belt could see him run well.
⭕ The Rockingham Handicap (3:00pm) is the first of five fiercely competitive Premier Handicaps on the card. Run over 5f, there will be no hanging around with 19 sprinters set to take their chance. The eye is drawn to the lightly-raced Run Ran Run, who was a winner on only his second handicap start, and first at this trip, when last seen at the Curragh last month. He charted a course up the far rail there, squeezing through and staying on strongly to get up narrowly on the line. As a result, this son of No Nay Never has only gone up two pounds in the handicap so there should be more to come off this sort of mark.
⭕ Post time for the Irish Derby (1m4f) is 3:40pm and a field of nine Classic hopefuls are set to stand their ground. Of course, one of those is already a Classic winner in the shape of Auguste Rodin. It was a hugely impressive training performance from Aidan O’Brien to bring this son of Deep Impact back from a disappointing run in the 2000 Guineas to win so well at Epsom. The way he shot clear of the chasing pack that day to run down breakaway leader King Of Steel proved him to be the horse his trainer had suggested he would be at the beginning of the season. He looks very hard to oppose here, and probably only has Epsom Derby third and fourth, White Birch and Sprewell, to worry about. The former was seen finishing best from the back of the field at Epsom and could finish closer if given a strong pace to aim at, but that’s unlikely in this smaller field.
⭕ Next up is the Derby Festival Handicap (4:15pm) over a mile. Farnborough is likely to be popular here, but on only his second handicap start it may be worth taking a chance on Joseph O’Brien’s Snapraeterea, who shaped well enough on his seasonal bow in May. This son of Buratino is a dual Listed winner that is used to competing in patterned company, so he makes appeal off a handicap mark of 99 with the excellent Jake Coen removing five pounds from the saddle.
⭕ Yerwanthere may be the one to focus on in the Summer Fillies’ Handicap (4:50pm). She looked unlucky when running into a wall of horses in the Kensington Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, but stayed on well to finish a close fifth. She remains on an unchanged mark and can surely take advantage if granted more luck here. Her stablemate Adelaise is likely to be the biggest danger but may be less suited to this drop back to 7f.
⭕ The Listed Celebration Stakes (5:25pm) is run over a mile. There are plenty of interesting types in here, including impressive maiden winner Fernao and last-time-out Listed placed Didn’thavemuchtodo. It may be safest to stick with the proven form of Dermot Weld’s Tarawa though, who finished an excellent fourth behind Tahiyra in the Irish 1000 Guineas when last seen, and she can build on that at this lower level.
⭕ To conclude a brilliant card, we have the 1m4f “Ragusa” Handicap (6:00pm), and this looks as competitive as any of the previous races. Ones to look out for are the Gavin Cromwell-trained pair Dha Leath and My Mate Mozzie, as well as Safecracker and Smooth Tom, who both went close last time. They might struggle to contain Emmet Mullins’ Teed Up though, who finished second to Metier in the November Handicap when last seen, is capable of going well fresh, and runs off only a marginally higher mark here.