The Irish Derby (6.30pm, Curragh, Saturday) hosts a select field of nine that includes the first three in the Epsom Derby, Ruler Of The World, Libertarian and Galileo Rock. In addition there is an intriguing appearance from Sugar Boy, who beat both Galileo Rock and Libertarian in the Classic Trial at Sandown Park in April.
The unbeaten Ruler Of The World (11/10 SkyBet, Paddy Power) attempts to provide Aidan O’Brien with his eleventh winner of the Irish Derby and appears to have excellent prospects of doing so. He holds Libertarian and Galileo Rock on their running in the Epsom Derby and, on a line through the former, also appears to have the measure of Trading Leather. Of course, the Curragh presents a much stiffer test of stamina than Epsom, but the son of Galileo wasn’t stopping at Epsom or in the Chester Vase, over 1m4½f, on his previous start. Indeed, he won going away over 1m2f at the Curragh on his racecourse debut in April, so shouldn’t fail through lack of stamina.
Libertarian (7/2 Bet365, Betfred) finished best of all to snatch second in the Epsom Derby and should be able to confirm the form with the third, Galileo Rock, on a more testing track. He holds Trading Leather on their running in the Dante Stakes, over 1m2f, at York last month and lost all chance when hampered in the Classic Trial at Sandown on his previous start. He has 1½ lengths to find with Ruler Of The World on Epsom Derby form and, although he may be suited by the demands of the Curragh, he still looks to have work to do to reverse the form.
Winner of the Classic Trial, Sugar Boy (9/1 SkyBet, Stan James, Coral, William Hill), could be a potential fly in the ointment. He was beaten 1¾ lengths by the Epsom Derby fourth, Battle Of Marengo, in the Ballysax Stakes, over 1m2f, at Leopardstown in April, but improved to beat Eye Of The Storm and Galileo Rock by a head and half a length at Sandown. A strict interpretation of that form gives him very little to find with Ruler Of The World, although it’s worth noting that he’s yet to win beyond 1m2f and, being out of a Dansili mare, his stamina is not guaranteed.
John Oxx won the Irish Derby in 2000 with Sinndar and in 2004 with Alamshar, so his Dalakhani colt Little White Cloud (40/1 Coral, William Hill) is worth a second look. The form of his second, beaten 2¼ lengths, in the Gallinule Stakes, over 1m2f, at the Curragh last month has been franked by the winner, Leading Light, who won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last week and he ran green when third, beaten 3 lengths, behind Battle Marengo in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown on his previous start. Strictly speaking, he needs to improve to trouble the principals, but he may well do so, particularly with the step up to a mile and a half likely to suit him.
Aidan O’Brien’s other entry, Festive Cheer (25/1 Stan James), was only just touched off in a Group 2 contest at Longchamp on his reappearance in April, but could only finish tenth, beaten 12 lengths, behind Ruler Of The World at Epsom and is hard to fancy. Similar comments apply to Cap O’Rushes (66/1 BetVictor, Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill), who was beaten in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot last week off a handicap mark of 95 and seems exposed as well short of the standard required, and Ralston Road (100/1 Bet365, Ladbrokes), who ran better than his finishing position suggests in the Queen’s Vase, but still has nearly two stone to find with Ruler Of The World on official BHA ratings.
Irish Derby Tips Verdict
Ruler Of The World is the obvious one, with Sugar Boy an interesting alternative for those prepared to take a chance on his stamina. However, the one that makes most appeal at the odds on offer is LITTLE WHITE CLOUD, who has plenty of stamina in his pedigree and may be capable of upsetting some better fancied rivals. Even at a fifth the odds a place the first three, he looks ripe for an each-way burgle at 40/1 with Coral or William Hill.