THE Irish Derby takes place today and is always one of the highlights of the flat season.
Jockey Frankie Dettori will be a star attraction as one thousand lucky racegoers get back on track as part of a Covid pilot event. Dettori is having an incredible season and will ride Lone Eagle in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby as he seeks a third Classic victory of the season.
Dettori has already captured the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks this season on the Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Mother Earth and Snowfall and takes over on Lone Eagle at the weekend with regular jockey Silvestre de Sousa required to ride for King Power Racing in England.
There is real excitement building all week about this year’s Irish Derby as it looks a very good race on paper. In recent years it has been dominated by the Aidan O’Brien battalion but the addition of a few English challengers and the flamboyant 50-year-old Italian Dettori has given the race an extra lift.
Trainer Martyn Meade said: “Frankie’s going to ride him. Silvestre is riding for his retainer this weekend, so Frankie was on straight away to ride him which we thought was significant as there are a number of good races in Britain this weekend.
"We’ve had some good success together before and he’s a great man to have on your side. Our horse had a bit of mucus in his scope before Epsom so we didn’t run there but that didn’t come to anything and he’s really well at home.
“I think the Irish Derby will be a better place for him anyway as it’s a more conventional track and he’s not a horse who’s going to have a burst of speed like I think you need to win the Derby. The softer the ground the better for him although he’s versatile and we don’t have any concerns if the ground is not like that.”
Another interesting English challenger is Mojo Star who defied odds of 50-1 at Epsom and will bid to go one place better here after being added to the race. The Richard Hannon-trained colt remains a maiden after three runs but was only four and a half lengths behind Adayar earlier this month.
Of course, the Hannon team enjoyed plenty of success over the years with the Horgan family here in Cork and the victory of Tirol in the English 2000 Guineas brings back great memories for may racing fans on Leeside.
Another jockey having an incredible season is 54-year-old Kevin Manning who enjoyed another Group 1 victory on Poetic Flare at Royal Ascot. It was universally acclaimed as one of the highlights of last week’s high-profile meeting.
Manning and Jim Bolger will team up with Mac Swiney who edged out Poetic Flare in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh a few weeks ago. On that occasion, Mac Swiney battled like a lion and like all these top horses from the Bolger yard they are very resolute and thrive on their racing.
But the Irish Derby has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien and he supplies the favourite High Definition who was all the rage during the winter for the Epsom Derby but was pulled out before declaration time. The Galileo colt won each of his two juvenile starts, before a blood disorder scuppered a planned Lingfield run and sent him to York’s Dante Stakes for a Classic prep.
High Definition finished third on his return on the Knavesmire and had been expected to line up at Epsom, only for O’Brien and Coolmore to make a late change of plan three days before the Derby which saw him miss out in favour of the Curragh.
The Derby meeting is packed with quality across the weekend and the Railway Stakes is always a real highlight. Castle Star and Royal Ascot runner-up Go Bears Go are among 20 confirmations for the Group Two Railway Stakes. Fozzy Stack’s impressive Marble Hill Stakes winner Castle Star appears set to return over course and distance while David Loughnane’s Go Bears Go, beaten just a head in the Norfolk Stakes last week, has been supplemented for today’s race and is set to move up to six furlongs for the first time.
Finally, it was great to see Upton-based trainer John Murphy back in the winners enclosure with Fearless Girl on Monday night at Ballinrobe. His team are ticking over nicely and all hit form for these summer meetings. The horse was ridden by Dylan Browne McMonagle who really is a star apprentice jockey right now.