Mick Fitzgerald: El Astronaute looks Rock’ solid at the Curragh on Thursday

The three-day Derby Festival is about to come under orders and Mick Fitz is hot to trot.



`There’s a great evening of racing at the Curragh with a couple of trappy maidens to kick off what should be a fantastic three days of the Curragh Festival that culminates in the Irish Derby on Saturday.

We start at 17.45 with a 7f two-year-old Fillies maiden and Innervisions is one to keep an eye on in the market. This daughter of Fiesolana (who won the Matron Stakes) is by Dubawi. The form horses are Love who was a beaten favourite on her first start for Aidan O’Brien, but is bound to improve for that experience.

The second maiden for colts and geldings over the same trip is at 18.15 and Dermot Weld’s Radetsky catches my eye. He’s out of that good mare  Brooch, that DK Weld also trained, and arguably could have been found easier options to start off his career. However, Ballydoyle’s New World Tapestry has a rich pedigree also and with the benefit of a run when third to Royal Ascot Coventry Stakes winner Arizona, has to be the selection.

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A competitive 1m 4f handicap at 18.45 where plenty have chances. Ger Lyons’ Inscribe started favourite at Cork last time, but was beaten by Perfect Tapatino. Joseph O’Brien’s runner was placed in a muddling race and was able to take advantage. The handicapper has dropped Inscribe 2lbs for that run and I’m willing to give him another chance.

Mudlahhim is hard to pronounce – but is hard to ignore here for the Kevin Prendergast team. His sole run last season when second to 2.000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia is stand out form. It’s interesting that he has a tongue tie on for the first time and falls into the ‘could be anything’ category. However, Piano Solo is the highest rated of the ones with recent form and ranks the safest bet.

The 5f Rockingham Sprint at 19.45 has a long history of gambles with horses that were laid out for the race. David ‘Buster’ Parnell was a great jockey years ago and he would recount tales of horses that were laid out for a year to land this race. He always said you needed a Group horse in a handicap just to be sure!  Top weight El Astronaute is all speed and seemed to enjoy the Irish air when beating Smash Williams at Cork last time.

He is 2lbs  worse off now with Smash Williams for a three quarters of a length beating, who could reverse the form if the ground gets any slower. Duke of Firenze is interesting in a race that should set up for him nicely, but his previous visits to the track have been unsuccessful and that puts me off. El  Astronaute will last home again from Smash Williams.

Trossachs has some stand-out form in the Apprentice Derby and that gets him the vote in the 20.15 over 1m 4f.  His young rider has ridden 20 winners to date and is with the master trainer, Jim Bolger, who honed the talents of AP McCoy, Seamie Heffernan & Aidan O’Brien to name a few!

A 10f maiden concludes the first day at 20.45 where Ger Lyons’ Lancastria was unlucky to bump into Eminent Authority at Killarney and can gain compensation. Ballydoyle’s Macquarie is the obvious danger, but I feel connections would use his rating 71 in a handicap if they thought he was ‘well in’ off that mark.

*Prices correct at time of publishing 

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What do you think?