The 151st running of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby goes to post at twenty past five on Saturday evening. While the location is the same, the venue is very new.
The Curragh has been extensively redeveloped and this year's renewal will finally have a setting befitting the occasion. The weather looks set to play ball too, with a heatwave forecast.
Aidan O'Brien saddles five of the eight runners as he goes in search of a thirteenth Irish Derby success. Anthony van Dyck will be the mount of Ryan Moore as he bids to become O'Brien's fifth dual Derby winner. Australia, Camelot, High Chaparral and the daddy of them all Galileo are the others.
There are no English raiders, which will be disappointing for The Curragh, but given the first six home at Epsom were all trained over here, what English horse is the race missing? The Epsom form has taken a boost with wins for Japan and Circus Maximus at Royal Ascot. Suggestions the renewal of this year's Derby was sub-standard look entirely premature.
The supporting card at the Curragh is a cracker, the opening race getting underway at quarter to two. Cityman was unlucky at the course two runs back but made no mistake at Tipperary six days ago. Andy Slattery's son of Slade Power looks really progressive but didn't look to love the hurly-burly of a big sprint at the Curragh. He will be the best of these in time, but Saturday could be Ducky Mallon's day, he won at Fairyhouse but this race is his Gold Cup and he only carries a three-pound penalty for that win.
The Group Three Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises International Stakes goes to post at half-past three and if Addeyb stands his ground he will be favourite. The son of Pivotal has never had a liking for a quick surface and there may be some firm in the going by mid-saturday afternoon. The Dermot Weld trained Georgeville is a wonderfully progressive horse who deservedly steps up to this level. It's will be a huge opportunity for Oisin Orr on potentially the biggest winner of his career. the donegal man has struck up a brillaint relationship with veteran trainer dermot weld. The 2017 Champion Apprentice has a 25% strike rate with 13 winners so far for Rosewell House.
The Gain Railway Stakes gets underway just before the main event. It is a proverbial small but select field. Ger Lyons has not hidden his regard for Siskin. This race is a stepping stone for the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the same venue later in the season. Monarch of Egypt was the first progeny of triple-crown winner American Pharoah to see the track. he was a blistering winner on debut at Naas, this is his first run since having sidestepped Ascot. The English raider Romero was value for more than the winning distance at Doncaster on debut and should progress for the run.
The Railway Stakes will be a tasty hors d'ouerve ahead of the main event, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby