With four of the five British Classics down this season and Royal Ascot behind us, the eyes of the Flat racing world will turn to Ireland over the coming months, starting with Derby day at the Curragh this weekend.
However, after Aidan O’Brien’s colts’ cracking Epsom run was snapped by John Gosden earlier this month, the home team won’t have it all their own way.
Here are our three bets to steam into over the water as the summer draws on.
Irish Derby – Jack Hobbs
Punters must learn the lessons of the 2015 Flat campaign so far and abandon Ballydoyle’s boys when O’Brien looks to improve on an awesome record of eight Irish Derby wins in the past nine years, and 11 triumphs all told in the event.
Despite the crack County Wexford handler’s 1m4f colts showing little in the build up to the Epsom Derby, Ryan Moore’s mount Giovanni Canaletto was backed into 6/1 third favourite, from 12/1 a week previously, seemingly based on the fact that O’Brien was going for a four-timer in the event.
After Gosden’s 1-2 with Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs, the latter of which finished 6½l clear of O’Brien’s best, the English raider will be a warm favourite to hand the Newmarket-based trainer his first Irish Derby victory, although Ballydoyle backers may keep his price nice.
Irish Oaks – Qualify
O’Brien’s past two Epsom Oaks winners, namely Alexandrova in 2006 and Was in 2011, each competed in the Curragh’s 1m4f fillies Classic a few weeks later, with the former storming to a 4l victory under Kieran Fallon, while the latter had excuses in running for finishing fourth.
After Qualify’s shock 50/1 Epsom triumph, where the daughter of Fastnet Rock posted a faster time than the aforementioned pair, it would be a surprise if she didn’t go, and go well, in July’s Irish equivalent.
Irish Champion Stakes – Free Eagle
The past five runnings of this event have been over good or good-to-firm ground, so Dermot Weld’s Royal Ascot Prince of Wales’ Stakes winner should get conditions to suit in September at Leopardstown.
Bar a shock loss on Irish Champion Stakes Day two years ago to Australia, who went on to claim both Derbys and the Juddmonte at York, Free Eagle’s only negative piece of form has been a 1½l loss at Ascot last October on heavy ground, and the four-year-old proved he’s over that with a stout run in quick conditions last week.
Weld’s runner is currently a 10/1 shot for October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a race the Galway trainer has never won.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £25 in free bets.