The first of two previous Irish Derby winners to run on the Curragh card this Saturday is Latrobe with a small field of four runners going to post for the Group 3 Alleged Stakes.
The 2018 winner of the Irish Derby returns following a recent fifth place finish behind Leo De Fury in the Mooresbridge Stakes here 15 days ago. He’s currently rated 111, which is the same mark his stablemate and fellow Lloyd Williams-owned runner Buckhurst also runs off this Saturday evening.
Like his stablemate, Buckhurst has also only ran once this season when finishing second in a cracking finish to the Heritage Stakes at Navan, and this increase in trip will suit today. Race tactics will be interesting here, with Joseph O’Brien also saddling Numerian with Declan McDonagh in the saddle. He was just ahead of Latrobe in the Mooresbridge and despite his lower rating could run another solid race.
SIR DRAGONET is getting one last chance to get his head back in the winners’ enclosure this Saturday evening, with his last success coming in the Chester Vase in May last year.
He finished fifth in the Epsom Derby and has already previously been beaten by Buckhurst and Numerian, but just might get the edge over his old rivals under Seamie Heffernan. He returns to the track quickly enough after his second-place finish in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot last week and will hopefully give Aidan O’Brien another victory in this contest.
The only unbeaten runner in the 2020 renewal of the Irish Derby is the Joseph O’Brien-trained CROSSFIREHURRICANE with jockey Shane Crosse once again in the saddle. He has progressed onto a new mark of 106 and rated just five-pounds lower than race favourite Santiago for Aidan O’Brien.
The son of Kitten’s Joy won the Listed Patton Stakes at Dundalk in late February before success in the Gallinule earlier this month, beating rivals Gold Maze and Sherpa.
He steps up an extra two-furlongs to the Derby trip, which won’t be an issue and it’s extremely hard to see him finishing outside the top three places and could go very close to giving Joseph his second Irish Derby as a trainer. Elsewhere, Santiago returns quickly after victory at Royal Ascot just eight days ago, with Aidan O’Brien looking for his 14th Irish Derby and jockey Seamie Heffernan his fourth.
He’s officially rated the best horse in this race (111) following his decent victory in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and the step down in trip won’t be any worry.
Aidan O’Brien’s other real serious contender is Arthur’s Kingdom with cheekpieces applied for the first time this Saturday evening. He’s another son of Camelot in the field and has never finished outside the first two places and Wayne Lordan takes the ride today.
We close Derby day on the Curragh with the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes where yet again, father and son, Aidan and Joseph O’Brien do battle. Aidan saddles last year’s Irish Derby winner Sovereign under Seamie Heffernan, with the feature winner of 2019 returning for the first time following that success under Padraig Beggy.
His form is solid, but you can only imagine the son of Galileo will require his first run of the season after an absence of 364-days, with the Irish St Leger his long-term target. Master Of Reality is another making his return after a break, and previously ran nice races behind Stradivarius and Search For A Song last season.
With that in mind, it might be best to side with his stable-mate, TWILIGHT PAYMENT also trained by Joseph O’Brien. Wayne Lordan remains in the saddle this Saturday night and the Lloyd Williams-owned runner has the fitness edge of his market rivals.
He finished down the field in Saudi Arabia back in February, before running second in the Seval Beg at Leopardstown earlier this month. He has the beaten of Falcon Eight, Trossachs and Barbados on that run and can claim this prize by kicking clear at the right time with his fitness edge playing a big factor.
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