G1 Irish Derby is the highlight of a big weekend at Curragh

From GBI Racing:gbi

Aidan O’Brien is set to be mob-handed as he seeks revenge over Epsom conqueror Harzand and bids to win Saturday’s Irish Derby for an amazing 11th time since 2001.

US Army Ranger, who was beaten a length and a half by Harzand in the Epsom Derby three weeks ago, is at the head of the O’Brien team and likely to be ridden again by Ryan Moore, but goodground lover Idaho, third at Epsom, is also an intended starter.

O’Brien said earlier this week: “US Army Ranger and Idaho are our main two. They seem to be in good form since Epsom, and have come out of their races well. The ground was on the slow side which is always a help for them to recover after the race.

“You need a very good horse to win the Irish Derby, and you need to stay very well. There is nowhere to hide, and it’s usually not very tactical. The pace is usually even, and the best horse always wins at the Curragh.”

However, Harzand’s trainer Dermot Weld admitted he would have preferred another week to prepare the colt for Saturday’s Curragh Classic, but decided to enter him on short rest.

“He’s a horse that gives his all, he’s a very courageous horse, and it just left its mark on him for the first week, but we’re happier with him now,” Weld reported. “The ground should be all right. My only worry is that he had a tough race and it took a lot out of him.”

Alongside the Derby, Saturday’s card also features the GAIN Railway Stakes, a 1200m Group Two event that frequently throws up a Classic candidate or two for the following season.

Sunday at the Curragh…

There’s a strong supporting card with no less than four Group events on the Sunday, with the highlight being the Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes, a Group One over 2000m for fillies and mares. British raiders have enjoyed plenty of success since the turn of the century with the likes of Chorist, Dar Re Mi and Izzi Top emerging victorious.

However, the home team have an ace up their sleeves this year in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s Minding, the winner of the Investec Oaks. She will be taking on older rivals for the first time, but has looked an outstanding performer in two Classic successes so far.

Minding could be joined by stablemates Alice Springs, third in the Coronation Stakes last week, and Munster Oaks winner Pretty Perfect.

Jim Bolger’s Lucida and Jessica Harrington’s Bocca Baciata will also be trying to the keep the prize at home, while the British challengers are headed by James Fanshawe’s Speedy Boarding with Martyn Meade’s Irish Rookie, Luca Cumani’s Koora and David Simcock’s Carnachy and Bateel also in the mix.

The Coral Curragh Cup (Group 3, 2800m), the Finlay Volvo International Stakes (Group 3, 2000m) and the Grangecon Stud Stakes (Group 3, 1200m) are the supporting pattern contests.

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