HORSE RACING FIXTURES AND RESULTS
HORSE RACING FEATURE
Irish Derby Preview: Polter-Geist can ghost past rivals
Adam Houghton previews the Group 1 Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday and picks out his best bet.
Galileo, High Chaparral, Camelot, Ruler of The World and Australia have all won the Derby for Aidan O'Brien since the turn of the century, and four of that quintet went on to follow up in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh, with only Ruler of The World letting the side down when fifth in 2013. Interestingly, Ruler of The World was one of five runners for O'Brien when winning his Derby at Epsom - a bigger team for the trainer than when successful on the other three occasions - which suggested that the Ballydoyle team was lacking a real superstar among their three-year-old ranks.
Fast forward the clock four years and we find ourselves in a similar position, with Wings of Eagles attempting to complete the English/Irish Derby double once more for O'Brien. He was one of six runners in the race for his trainer when successful last month, however, and his starting price of 40/1 suggested he was one of the least fancied of the bunch too. He found plenty of improvement for an increased test of stamina that day, winning in a style reminiscent of his sire Pour Moi, sweeping to the front close home and if anything value for more than the winning margin. He has the potential to progress further, though it’s worth noting that each of O’Brien’s previous Derby winners were sent off at odds-on at the Curragh - Ruler of The World the biggest at 5/4-on - and Wings of Eagles faces a battle just to hold on to his position at the head of the market in the coming days.
O'Brien is responsible for eight of the 12 entries as he seeks a remarkable 12th Irish Derby victory, with English Derby also-rans Capri (sixth), Douglas Macarthur (seventh) and Venice Beach (12th) the most interesting. Capri looked all about stamina when showing improvement for the longer trip at Epsom, his progress coming despite the track not seeming to suit him; Douglas Macarthur ran a cracker, used as a pacemaker, but going with plenty of zest and giving best only late in the day, while Venice Beach had beaten the winner at Chester the time before, but wasn't in the same form on the day and is another who did not look entirely at ease on the track. Douglas Macarthur makes most appeal of that trio if ridden more conservatively than he was at Epsom, though there is no obvious reason why he should reverse the form with the principals there.