Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby: Runner-by-runner guide to the Curragh Classic

By Harry Allwood@H_Allwood1
Sat 27 Jun 2020

Watch vital form clues plus read Harry Allwood's verdict on each contender in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, which takes place live on Racing TV on Saturday.

Listen to our dedicated Irish racing podcast On The Wire

As has become the norm in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand once again in the Group One feature at the Curragh on Saturday.

The master of Ballydoyle is seeking his fourteenth victory in the Irish Classic and is represented by six of the contenders, including the favourite, Santiago.

The big question mark for the Queen’s Vase winner and his stablemate, Arthur’s Kingdom, who also ran at Royal Ascot, is whether they are over their exertions at the Royal meeting.

Angus McNae and Fran Berry previewed the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on the channel on Friday which is worth a watch (below).

Here’s a guide to all the contenders ahead of the Group One feature which will be shown live on Racing TV at 7.15pm on Saturday.


Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 107. General odds: 11-2.

Arthur's Kingdom in winning action at Gowran Park last year

Finished runner-up in a Group One, albeit a weak one, on his final start at Saint-Cloud last year and found only Pyledriver too good in the King Edward VI Stakes at Royal Ascot eleven days ago.

Has always shaped as though middle-distances or further would suit – the three-year-old is closely related to 1m7f winner Joshua Tree – and he will probably show his best over even further than this trip in time.

Has progressed in each of his starts so far and wears cheekpieces for the first time but will need to have quickly recovered from his exertions at the Royal meeting to go close here.


Trainer: Ger Lyons. Rating: -- General odds: 20-1.

Chircahua was narrowly denied at Naas when last seen

Finished runner-up in two one-mile maidens last season and the form of his debut effort has worked out well with the winner, Degraves, successful in a Group Three on his next start.

Was narrowly denied by Nobel Prize, who disappointed in the Queen’s Vase next time out, at Naas when last seen and this Camelot colt now steps up significantly in trip.

Ger Lyons has been operating at a strike-rate of 30 per cent in the past fortnight, but it will be a surprise if his charge provides him with a first Irish Derby victory based on what Chircahua has shown so far.


Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. Rating: 106. General odds: 6-1.

Joseph O'Brien discusses Crossfirehurricane's victory in the Gallinule Stakes

Unbeaten in four starts and was given a confident ride to land a Group Three on his first start over ten furlongs at the Curragh last time out where he was weak in the market beforehand.

Was well on top at the finish on that occasion and the likelihood of a strong pace ought to suit him here.

Hasn’t been asked for his full effort in each of his four starts so far, so it is hard to know just how good he is, and another step up in trip will be no hinderance to him.

Firmly on the upgrade and another step forward will see him in the mix here.


Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: -- General odds: 14-1.

Dawn Patrol found only Tiger Moth too good at Leopardstown this month

Looked a work in progress when running green and plugging on to finish fourth in a maiden won by Sunchart at Tipperary last year.

Improved enormously for that effort when runner-up behind Tiger Moth this month and is a half-brother to 2011 English Derby winner Pour Moi, so it is wise to think he is capable of much better.

Looks the type to relish 1m4f and although another big step forward is required and his form is not as strong as what his rivals have achieved, it will be no surprise if he outruns his odds given he is bred to be high class.


Trainer: Jim Bolger. Rating: -- General odds: 8-1.

Watch how Fiscal Rules fared in the Irish 2,000 Guineas

Pushed Wichita, who has since finished runner-up in the Qipco 2000 Guineas, when second on debut at the Curragh last year and produced a brilliant effort to finish fifth in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas on his second start despite being forced to make his challenge out wide.

Takes a significant hike up in trip here, but there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree and has one of the strongest pieces of form next to his name.

Jim Bolger also said on a recent edition of the On The Wire podcast that Fiscal Rules “is definitely better than my last Derby winner (Trading Leather, 2013)”.

It’s almost certain there is more to come from this son of Make Believe and he holds strong claims if seeing out this new trip.


Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. Rating: -- General odds: 33-1.

Galileo Chrome got off the mark at the Curragh this month

Improved for his debut effort and an extra two furlongs when showing a good attitude to score at the Curragh this month.

Looks certain to improve over twelve furlongs and is another that remains unexposed in this field.

However, the form of his maiden victory doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary and his stable holds stronger claims with Crossfirehurricane.


Trainer: Jessica Harrington. Rating: 103. General odds: 16-1.

Gold Maze finished second behind Crossfirehurricane in a Group Three last time out

Yet to win in three attempts so far but has shown promise on each occasion and finished a respectable second to Crossfirehurricane last time out.

Has work to do to reverse form with Joseph O’Brien’s charge who was well on top at the finish that day and is also expected to improve running over this trip for the first time.

This son of 2015 Investec Derby winner Golden Horn will need to step up if he is to follow in his father’s footsteps and win a Derby, although must be held in high regard to be pitched into this company. Jockey Shane Foley said on Racing TV on Thursday that any rain would help.


Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 106. General odds: 12-1.\

Iberia finished third in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial last time out

Ran respectably in a couple of Group races after winning on debut last year and certainly shaped as though he was ready for further when racing over 7f-1m on each of his five starts.

Hard to say if he didn’t stay ten furlongs on his first start over that trip on his return as he raced keenly and that seemed to take its toll late on. The form of that race looks strong, as the runner-up, Russian Emperor, landed the Hampton Court Stakes next time out.

Iberia’s run at Leopardstown should have taken the freshness out of him and he ought to fare better on Saturday.


Trainer: Emmet Mullins. Rating: 92. General odds: 66-1.

Watch a replay of King Of The Throne's run last time out

Has failed to get his head in front in five starts, although ran his best race yet when narrowly denied in a 1m2f maiden at the Curragh.

Bound to have his supporters with top jump jockey Rachael Blackmore on board, but it’s hard to make a case for this three-year-old who needs to step up considerably on what he has shown so far.


Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: -- General odds: 40-1.

Order of Australia improved to finish third on his second start

Padraig Beggy guided Sovereign to a shock victory at odds of 33-1 in last year’s Irish Derby, but it will be an even bigger shock if he manages to steer this one to success on Saturday.

Order Of Australia led last time out and may again act as a pacemaker for Aidan O’Brien’s leading protagonists. That won't stop him from winning (see last year's race) but he has an awful lot to find on form.


Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 111. General odds: 3-1.

Santiago was successful at Listowel before winning at Royal Ascot

Showed a decent level of form in maidens last season, including when runner-up to Alpine Star, and impressed when comfortably landing the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot eight days ago.

Both of his victories have come on soft ground and the possibility of quicker conditions on Saturday pose a question mark as it’s likely he will be best suited with some cut in the ground being by Authorized.

Sets the standard on that latest run but would have had a hard race at Ascot on soft ground over 1m6f and, similarly to stablemate Arthur’s Kingdom, needs to prove he is over those exertions.


Trainer: Donnacha O’Brien. Rating: 102. General odds: 14-1.

Sherpa stayed on to finish third behind Crossfirehurricane last time out

Off the mark at the third attempt last season in what didn’t look the strongest of maidens, but he did it nicely and still looked green.

Caught the eye when third behind Crossfirehurricane as he met trouble in running and looked in need of an extra furlong or two.

Is another in this field who is capable of taking his form to another level but may find one or two too good.


Trainer: Andrew Slattery. Rating: 95. General odds: 40-1.

Sunchart impressed at Tipperary before disappointing upped in class last time out

Looked a useful performer in the making when getting off the mark at Tipperary last year on soft ground, and also finished runner-up on debut with cut in the ground.

No obvious excuse for his disappointing run in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time out other than the fact it was his first run on good to firm, and the key to him may be that he needs give underfoot.

Connections will be hoping the rain arrives on Saturday, but this youngster still has a bit to find even if he does get his optimum conditions and he needs to bounce back.


Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: -- General odds: 16-1.

Tiger Moth showed a good attitude to get off the mark this month

Beat a field full of potentially useful middle-distance performers when successful in a 1m2f maiden at Leopardstown this month where he travelled like the best horse in the race and found plenty under pressure.

Despite his breeding suggesting he will not be suited by 12 furlongs, he should have no problem with the trip judged on his Leopardstown run and it would be no surprise to see him in the mix.


Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. Rating: 106. General odds: 14-1.

Watch a full replay of the Irish 1,000 Guineas

One of three runners for Joseph O’Brien and this three-year-old – who is the only filly in the line-up - built on her debut promise when successful in a Group Three at the Curragh in September.

However, she took another step forward to finish fourth in the Qipco 1000 Guineas on her seasonal debut and is clearly talented.

The big question mark is whether she will stay an extra half mile here? The daughter of New Approach hasn’t shaped as though it will necessarily suit and has that to prove. If she does, then expect her to be involved at the finish.


This does not look the strongest renewal of the Irish Derby and Santiago proved he is firmly on the upgrade when successful at Royal Ascot. It has to be a worry though that his run at Ascot was only last week and he hasn’t had much time to get over those exertions.

FISCAL RULES stayed on to finish fifth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas on just his second start and the form of his debut run also looks strong. He is likely to have much more to offer and if he does stay this trip, he has a big chance.

I thought Sherpa shaped with plenty of promise when third in the Gallinule Stakes behind a couple of rivals who re-oppose here and should relish this new trip. He may not be Aidan O’Brien’s first string on paper but holds each-way claims.

1. Fiscal Rules. 2. Santiago. 3. Sherpa.

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