Stars faces a far more searching test

YOU would have to say that the line-up for Sunday’s Irish Derby at the Curragh is entirely predictable.

The biggest certainty was that there would be no English runner, on the basis they could not mount any sort of challenge at Epsom. There was simply no good reason to travel second-raters across the Irish Sea.

The other entirely predictable scenario was that Aidan O’Brien would be multi-handed and the fact he left in ten of the 17 possibilities was no great surprise.

What else can we take as a given? Well, that Sea The Stars will not be allowed the freedom of the Curragh, as he was at Epsom.

Many of us felt Golden Sword would be sacrificed at Epsom and that he would set a scorching pace from the start, in an effort to get Sea The Stars off the bridle.

Quite amazingly, nothing could have been further from the truth. He dawdled in front and the rest is history.

It is simply inconceivable such tactics will be repeated and it will be extraordinary if the Ballydoyle hordes do not demand Sea The Stars faces a far more searching test of stamina.

There are surely only four runners in this classic, Sea The Stars, the Ballydoyle pair, Masterofthehorse and Fame And Glory, and Gan Amhras.

Let’s deal with Gan Amhras first. He was beaten a mile at Epsom in 11th spot, with connections indicating a failure to handle the track.

Often you would take such comments with a grain of salt, but Gan Amhras, at the same time, hardly became a bad horse overnight.

In the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, he showed he was top-class by finishing third behind Sea The Stars and Delegator.

Rip Van Winkle was fourth and subsequent dual Group 1 winner, Mastercraftsman, fifth and that’s about as good as it gets.

If there is to be a mild surprise on Sunday, then Gan Amhras seems the most likely to spring it!

But back to the principals. There is every chance Sea The Stars is just a champion and will win no matter what way the contest is run.

I thought Johnny Murtagh would partner Masterofthehorse, in preference to Fame And Glory, but that sort of thinking was, apparently, wide of the mark.

Masterofthehorse came from the clouds at Epsom and seemed to be the one most inconvenienced by the uneven gallop.

If Ballydoyle houses another proper three-year-old, to go with Mastercraftsman, to my way of thinking he seems the most likely candidate.

Will there be evens Sea The Stars? A possibility, should one of the Ballydoyle duo become strong in the market.

If they are uneasy, or support is split between them, then those who cannot resist will have to trade Sea The Stars at odds-on.

Ladbrokes clearly do no want to come out to play, at 2-5. Cashmans in contrast, however, were still offering 5-6 late yesterday afternoon.


ANYONE else think this summer so far has been one long yawn when it comes to the game we all love.

Is it my imagination, or has the fare which has been off offer, at least largely, been no more than wall-to-wall dross?

It is so hard to whip up any enthusiasm for what’s on the menu right now. I mean look at the sort of rubbish we had at Kilbeggan on Monday night, Sligo (Tuesday) and Naas last night.

And some of the programmes leave so much to be desired. Take Down Royal last Friday night for instance.

I ask you why would race-planners decide to finish with three races all over five furlongs?

Any why would anyone in their right mind believe it is a good idea to have the first three races at Tipperary tonight run over five furlongs?

Then, to add insult to injury, they think finishing with an almost impossible-to-solve 14 furlongs handicap is the way to end.

If punters decide to stay away in droves, as many have been doing over a number of months, who could blame them. Perhaps, the Curragh this weekend will offer a little hope!


COULDN’T believe this quote attributed to Kildare trainer, Andrew Kinsella, regarding Royal Ascot last week.

Kinsella, who saddled Rock Of Rochelle, to finish third in the Wokingham, said: “It’s fantastic to come over here and the mind boggles when you see it all and compare it to what we’re used to at home.”

Seriously, Mr Kinsella needs to broaden his mind, get out of his native county more and travel south.

Easily known he’s never been to our favourite racecourse, Ireland’s first-all-weather track and the Ascot of Munster – Thurles!

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