Some smart three and four-year-olds will take their chances at the Curragh on Irish Derby day, while Newcastle’s Northumberland Plate looks wide open after significant ante-post withdrawals from the valuable handicap.
Aidan O’Brien’s dominance in the main event in Kildare will surely continue, but we’ve picked out a couple of potential improvers at chunky odds in the weekend’s other equine attractions.
Irish Derby 17.30 – Australia 1/10
While we’re not accustomed to tipping such short-priced favourites on news.ladbrokes, O’Brien’s challenger’s one-and-a half-length victory over Kingston Hill in the English equivalent was much more comfortable than the winning distance indicates.
The trainer’s son Joseph insists Australia is the best horse he’s ever ridden, and the 21-year-old has been on board some incredible animals including Camelot – who took this two years ago after romping home in Suffolk – in his short career.
Trading Leather’s triumph for Jim Bolger last summer broke a seven-season Irish Derby winning streak for O’Brien, who has taken this race 10 times in all.
With three of the other six runners in the field also under the care of the Ballydoyle maestro, Kingston Hill – the second-favourite for Roger Varian – will need to have improved beyond measure to reverse form with his Epsom conqueror in what’s likely to become a tactical affair.
Northumberland Plate 15.50 – Van Percy @ 10/1
English-trained horses have taken this race for the last five seasons, and the non-appearance of Willie Mullins’ Irish raider Pique Sous makes the home-team favourites to take the spoils on Gosforth Park’s big day.
Andrew Balding’s Van Percy has shaped like a four-year-old to keep an eye on, with two wins from his three starts in 2014, including last time out in a smart Newmarket handicap over 1m6f.
The son of 2006 Derby winner Sir Percy will have no problem with the step up in trip to 2m, and at an each-way price he rates the value in a tricky field to whittle down.
Curragh’s Railway Stakes 16.50 – Kool Kompany @ 7/1
This Richard Hannon two-year-old went into Royal Ascot’s Coventry Stakes as a well-backed 6/1 shot, but found John Quinn’s co-favourite The Wow Factor – plus 10 of the rest of the 15-runner field – too good on the day.
However, despite finishing 12th, Kool Kompany came home just 5l behind Quinn’s charge, and after posting wins in his three previous runs – the first of which came only nine weeks ago – he deserves another chance at the Curragh.
Aidan O’Brien has six runners in a race he took 11 times between 1997 and 2009, but hasn’t won since, while Hannon’s father – Richard senior – triumphed with Libourne Lad three years ago.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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