Epsom form faces test in front of small Derby crowd
30 June, 2017
There will a little of the pioneering spirit prevailing on the Curragh when this year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby is run.
A crowd ceiling of 6,000 will be in place as construction continues on a new state-of-the-art grandstand. Racegoers will encounter temporary facilities, which include marquees.
To put it in perspective, attendances for the last two Irish Derbys have been 25,255 to watch Jack Hobbs in 2015, and 18,244 for Harzand last year.
It will be very different this time but with due acknowledgement that it is a step towards a bright new era at Ireland's 'Home of the Classics.'
The atmosphere may even seem a little eery as the nine runners go to post with an absence of the usual crowd noise for this renewal of Ireland's premier race, which was first run in 1866, though revamped and sponsored from 1962.
Of the field of nine, five of them met in the G1 Investec Derby at Epsom on June 3.
Wings Of Eagles came out on top, producing a stunning finish reminiscent of his sire Pour Moi. He was 16th of the 18 runners at Tattenham Corner, yet he won by threequarters of a length, with a little in hand.
The Ballydoyle colt is joined by four stablemates, which places a clear emphasis on race tactics.
The John Gosden-trained Cracksman was beaten just on one length when third at Epsom, while Capri (6th), Douglas Macarthur (7th), Venice Beach (12th) and The Anvil (17th) were all tested and found wanting under Classic conditions.
That said, Capri and Douglas Macarthur are both likely improvers. The Curragh, which is a right-handed, galloping track should suit both, who showed potential earlier in the campaign with excellent runs in the G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 7.
Godolphin's Dubai Sand was well beaten into 5th that day but trainer Jim Bolger reports the Teofilo colt to have improved significantly in his work of late.
Bolger said Dubai Sand "is in good form and wants to get on with it," so he must enter calculations, albeit following a seven-week absence in which several of his rivals have gained valuable racing experience at the highest level.
The other key horse in the line-up is the Andre Fabre-trained Waldgeist, who comes to the Curragh off the back of a short head 2nd to the brilliant Brametot in the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly.
The extra furlong and a half distance this time will not bother Waldgeist, who is stoutly-bred, being by Galileo out of a Monsun mare.
The Irish Derby weekend at the Curragh is packaged as a three-day Festival. It kicks off on Friday night, followed by the Irish Derby on Saturday, plus another full card, featuring the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes on Sunday.