Weekend Racing Preview

The Irish Derby takes centre stage on Sunday at the Curragh in what is an action packed weekend of top quality horse racing. Being run on a Sunday for the first time since 2011, we could see Aidan O’Brien reach an incredible milestone in the Irish Derby as a win for the Ballydole master would see him reach 100 European Classic winners.

O’Brien could be represented by a team of four runners with Auguste Rodin, Adelaide River, Covent Garden and Peking Opera all entered in the Irish Derby (3.40, Sun). Auguste Rodin is of course O’Brien’s leading light with the three-year-old seeking to become the 16th horse to complete the Epsom/Irish derby double.

Three of the first four home in the Epsom Derby are set to line up in the Irish equivalent with White Birch (3rd) and Sprewell (4th) set to take on the dual group 1 winner Auguste Rodin again.

So can Auguste Rodin make history by bringing up the centaury for his handler while also delivering Ryan Moore his first win in the Itish derby? History is on the favourites side with 10 Epsom winners contesting the Irish equivalent since 2010. Six have won with only Ruler Of The World (2013) failing to reach the places. There’s currently a 60% strike rate for runners that finished in the first four at Epsom finishing in the places in this race.

Epsom runner-up King Of Steel has already boosted the Derby form by hacking up in King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot with the sixth Waipiro also winning at the Royal meeting.

Dermot Weld’s Knight To King is an intriguing participant having only made one start to date, that being an ultra impressive debut success in a Gowran Park maiden. Since 1997, only three horses have lined up in the Irish Derby with just one run under their belt. All three were trained by Aidan O’Brien with Book Of Kings posting the best effort when sixth of 10 in 2004.

The Irish Derby meeting gets underway on Friday at the Curragh and runs through until Sunday with high-class action taking place across the three days. On Friday, the Apprentice Derby takes place with trainer Joseph O’Brien seeking back-to-back wins in the race and his third success in the last four running’s. O’Brien has the well fancied Lygon Street who was last seen finishing third behind the aforementioned Knight To King last time out. The most valuable race on the opening day is the €50,000 3yo handicap at 7.50.

Things crank up a gear on Saturday with Newcastle staging it’s Northumberland Plate card while there’s Listed and Group 3 action to come from Newmarket’s July course. Meanwhile the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes is the feature from the Curragh.

It’s 12 months since Trueshan produced one of the great weight carrying performances in the Northumberland at Newcastle under Hollie Doyle for trainer Alan King with the handler being represented by course & distance winner Rainbow Dreamer (Rossa Ryan) who was 9th in the race last year.

William Haggas enjoyed a fine Royal Ascot with three winners and has the favourite Post Impressionist who won a Heritage Handicap at York when last seen in October. A possible lack of race fitness combined with the fact the four-year-old is unproven at the trip may make one think his price (9/2) is on the short side. Bar One Racing will be offering extra places on the 2.05 at Newcastle on Saturday (details tbc).

Of those at each-way prices, Zoffee ran a belter in the Chester Cup at their May meeting (btn nk) before posting another solid effort in the Ascot Stakes last time. Finding more off a career high mark just 11 days after is a big ask all the same.

Golden Rules is one of the stories of the race coming out of Deborah Faulkners small string of runners. Three-time champion Oisin Murphy is booked on the former Gosden’s trained charge won made a winning start for this team at Kempton last time. That was Golden Rules first start in over two years and just 3lb’s higher the gelding has been well-backed (7/1).

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article