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The Irish Derby Festival gets underway on Friday evening with a 6 furlong juvenile maiden and with plenty of eye-catching pedigrees on show. Beauty Inspire and War Effort are both sired by Mehmas. Johnny Murtagh’s runner is a half-brother to stablemate and Group 1 winner Champers Elysees, while Ger Lyons’ newcomer was an inexpensive purchase at Tattersalls last September. Meanwhile, The Lute Player is a Coolmore homebred and is a son of Caravaggio, as well as a half-brother to Sir Dragonet and Sir Lucan.
However, I’m hoping previous experience might be the key to finding the opening winner and ULTRAMARINE looks the safest option following a debut fourth at Fairyhouse earlier this month. The son of Zoffany attracted support in the betting on that occasion and was only beaten one-and-a-quarter lengths by Silver Surfer who had previous experience for Donnacha O’Brien. The Piltown team are enjoying a nice month with several winning youngsters which will hopefully continue this Friday.
Another interesting maiden with the juvenile fillies getting their chance to shine over 7 furlongs with another mouth-watering book of pedigrees on offer. Alaroos races on debut for Kevin Prendergast, while Book Too, a daughter of Teofilo and a half-sister to Dawn Approach, enters for Jim Bolger. The top-class breeding doesn’t stop there with Tuesday, by Galileo out of Lillie Langtry a sister to Classic winners Minding and Empress Josephine.
Market support for any of those beautifully bred fillies would be significant, but I’m adding some experience to my selection. DISCOVERIES is also bred in the purple and Jessica Harrington knows the family extremely well with this daughter of Mastercraftsman, a full-sister to Alpha Centauri and a half-sister to Alpine Star. The Niarchols Family-owned filly showed a nice turn of foot and learned plenty when staying on late when fourth at Leopardstown earlier this month.
Jim Bolger continues to dominate the headlines both on and off the racetrack during this eventful season, with the Coolcullen team having an excellent chance of securing another Apprentice Derby at the Curragh on Friday.
BEYOND HAPPY is the sole entry for Bolger having previously secured success in this race with Spelterini, News At Six, Dawn Hoofer and Trossachs since 2010. The lightly raced son of Fastnet Rock looks a solid each-way selection and should appreciate the step-up in trip under Luke McAteer.
Despite remaining a maiden following their unsuccessful starts as a juvenile, the four-year-old was gelded in March and will improve following his return when staying on for third-place at Leopardstown.
It’s such a competitive renewal with Loingseoir looking to land a hat-trick and plenty of others bang in contention. Following some nice runs over hurdles at the backend of last year, Sea Ducor looks a player for Arthur Moore – the five-year-old is only rated 5lbs higher than his victory at Navan in 2019.
This 1m 2f maiden for three-year-olds looks an open contest with Dermot Weld, Jessica Harrington, Jim Bolger, Michael Halford, Aidan O’Brien and Johnny Murtagh all saddling runners. Colin Keane takes the ride on Alpine Sierra, as the Rosewell runner is going to have her first run on turf following a debut third at Dundalk last month.
Haziya runs for the Aga Khan and Mick Halford following several nice starts this season, while Boulette is heading in the right direction for Jim Bolger. Interpretation wears cheekpieces and might need the run on return from a break for Aidan O’Brien.
However, SAFECRACKER is the selection. Johnny Murtagh’s runner can improve for a run behind Wordsworth at the Curragh in April and his recent third was also a good performance, when just outbattled at Cork last month by Castletownbere and Hms Seahorse.
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