We’ll have a small but select field for this year’s Irish Derby.
That’s down to the decision in early June when Aidan O’Brien let it be known that Ruler Of The World would be aimed here. It was a great decision for the Curragh and consequently for the race. The clarity provided meant the Epsom Derby winner was there to be marketed by the course, for the public to look forward to and for other trainers to plan to beat him. Everyone a winner then.
At Epsom Ryan Moore had the mount and the race fell nicely into his hands. We all saw how it worked out for Dawn Approach, at the time that’s where our eyes were locked. Out of focus Ryan was gathering Ruler Of The World quietly to come with a withering run from off the pace winding him before letting him go to run cleanly to the line. Ruler Of The World beat Libertarian 1 1/4 L who had a short head to spare over Galileo Rock.
Ballydoyle also run one other in Festive Cheer who was employed as a pacemaker at Epsom where he trailed in tenth. Prior to that he had some smart from in the Prix Hocquart, a Group 2 Derby trial at Lonchamp where he went down a head third to Andre Fabre’s Tableaux.
Karl and Elaine Burke had won the Dante with Libertarian as a 33/1 shot and came close to proving that trial to be once again Epsom’s most reliable guide. Libertarian beat Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather 1 1/4 L at York. Jim then stepped back to a mile for the Irish Guineas and his colt ran a cracker when third to Magician beaten 5 L. The step back up in trip here is bound to suit him and he had a confidence booster last time out at Listed level where he accounted for Lines Of Battle, the UAE Derby winner by 3 L.
The interesting race and possibly most significant one was the one before the Dante where Libertarian ran in the Sandown Classic Trial. He was 8 L behind the horse in third, David Wachman’s Galileo Rock.
We haven’t seen the second or first from that race in April since.
The vanquished was an O’Brien trained colt Eye Of The Storm who was a head behind Patrick Predergast’s Sugar Boy who still won it cosy. The Prendergast colt was building on a run two weeks before in the Ballysax where he was 1 3/4 L behind Battle Of Marengo with Little White Cloud in third beaten 3 L.
The fascination of the race is now the ownership of Libertarian and Sugar Boy.
The former is now owed by Godolphin who not only wrote the cheque to buy the horse but spent another €75,000 on the supplementary fee. Sugar Boy has been purchased by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, a first cousin to Sheik Mohammed. You could interpret this as two deals done to take on Ballydoyle or two deals done to purchase the two best colt’s who have the opportunity to take on Ruler Of The World.
In the interwoven form these two stand out. Sugar Boy improved form the Ballysax to the Sandown Classic Trial. His trainer will believe he’ll improve again. Libertarian improved from Sandown to the Dante and again in the Derby. He wasn’t unlucky at Epsom but again he may continue to improve. Ballydoyle will no doubt believe Ruler Of The World has more to give also. Jim Bolger must have a tinge of regret he didn’t aim Trading Leather at Epsom while John Oxx has given Little White Cloud more time and knows how to win this race also.
It’s all in the mix, the boys in blue versus the Ballydoyle blue, first, second and third from Epsom, Bolger, Oxx and Prendergast. What more could you want. With thankfully good ground on the horizon we have a cracking Irish Derby to saviour.
It could taste sweetest of all for Sugar Boy.
Recommendation : Sugar Boy 9/1 e/w