ELEVEN horses have been left in Saturday’s Group One Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh following today’s final entry stage. As expected, Epsom Derby hero Australia and runner-up Kingston Hill dominate proceedings with the former expected to go off a raging hot odds on favourite to give his trainer Aidan O’Brien his record 11th success in the race. Apart from Australia, O’Brien has also left Geoffrey Chaucer, Kingfisher, Meekong River, Orchestra, Table Rock and War Command in the race.
“Australia is in good form and remains on course for Saturday’s race,” said a Ballydoyle spokesman this morning. “The chances are we will run three or four in the race.”
Kingston Hill ran a smashing race at Epsom and his trainer Roger Varian reported recently that his colt will be more suited to the Curragh. However, Varian also said that Kingston Hill needs a bit of cut in the ground and he is hopeful that the forecast rain on Thursday and Friday is sufficient to allow the horse take his chance.
True Story flopped when only seventh behind Australia at Epsom, but the Saeed Bin Suroor looked all at sea on the track that afternoon and is surely a lot better than that. He has reportedly worked very well in a visor at home since his Epsom adventure and will be fitted with that piece of equipment in Saturday’s contest.
Fascinating Rock was one place behind True Story at Epsom and just like that colt, he too was completely unsuited by the track and is expected to do a lot better at the weekend. “Fascinating Rock has done really well since Epsom,” commented his Curragh-based trainer Dermot Weld recently. “The horse just didn’t handle the track that day and we expect a better showing from him on Saturday.”
Ponfeigh will represent another local trainer in John Oxx, who has won the race twice in the past with Sinndar (2000) and Alamshar (2003). “Ponfeigh has had two quick runs but he is in good order and will take his chance in Saturday’s race,” commented John Oxx today. “We have always liked this horse and he has a nice turn of foot. Obviously the step up in grade and trip is unknown territory for him but on form he is entitled to take his chance.”
Australia has been installed the 1/3 favourite by bookmakers Paddy Power, who then go 3/1 Kingston Hill, 8/1 True Story, 14/1 Fascinating Rock, 16/1 Geoffrey Chaucer and Ponfeigh, 20/1 War Command and Orchestra, 40/1 Meekong River, 50/1 Kingfisher and 66/1 Table Rock.
The Curragh ground is currently good to firm and light watering recommenced today.