Prospects good for perfect Curragh ground

A dry day at the Curragh has seen the ground dry to ‘good’ ahead of this weekend’s Budweiser Irish Derby meeting.

Racecourse manager Paul Hensey said: “We have had no rain today and the ground is genuinely good.

“There could be a light shower tonight and then there is a band of rain across the country late on Friday night into Saturday morning.

“That should just help to sweeten up the ground because it should dry out between now and when the rain comes and then we should be back to where we are now by Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Hanami will face five rivals as she bids to follow up last year’s win in the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow.

James Toller’s charge ran out a one-length winner of the 10-furlong contest last term and faces fellow British runners Chorist and Soldera in this year’s renewal.

Ivowen, Livadiya and Alexander Goldrun make up the home team in the race, which will be run for the first time as a Group One event.

Dermot Weld’s Ivowen drops down in trip having been campaigned over a mile and a half on her most recent outings in handicap and Listed company.

Alexander Goldrun has proven Group One form having chased home Attraction in the Boylesports Irish 1000 Guineas, with Jim Bolger’s charge going down by just a length on that occasion.

The three-year-old, who receives weight from all of her rivals, finished a credible fourth in the Prix de Diane Hermes on her most recent outing, just two-lengths behind the winner after suffering trouble in running.

Harry Rogers’ Livadiya who, in addition to chasing home Soviet Song, finished runner-up to Powerscourt in the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup on her penultimate start.

Meanwhile, American jockey Gary Stevens will ride Jagger in the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle tomorrow.

Stevens’ appeal against a 20-day ban handed out by the Italian authorities last month was heard in Rome yesterday but, as a decision on the outcome is not expected until next week, he is free to ride tomorrow.

Eddie Ahern has switched to the Jeremy Noseda-trained Promoter in the Plate having originally been down to ride Jagger.

Paul Hanagan said he was “shocked” after being hit with a 28-day ban at a hearing of the Jockey Club’s disciplinary panel.

The jockey failed to ride to his draw on Weet An Haul at Ripon on May 26 and, as this was his sixth breach of Instruction H17 within the previous 12 months, the matter was referred to Portman Square by the local stewards.

Elsewhere, Leopardstown racecourse has announced that Coolmore Stud will sponsor the Matron Stakes, elevated to Group One status for the first time this year.

The race, to be run as the principal supporting event on Baileys Irish Champion Stakes day on September 11 will be known as the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes, named after the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner.

Meanwhile, Antonius Pius has been well supported in the ante-post markets for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Thursday week.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt threw away almost certain victory in the French 1000 Guineas by jinking to the right, and was beaten just one length in last week’s St James’s Palace Stakes.

William Hill cut the Danzig colt into 13-2 from 12s, while Coral go 7-1 from 10s.

Cashmans Irish Derby betting: 8/11 North Light, 5/1 Let the Lion Roar, 13/2 Rule of Law, 8/1 Grace Swallow, 9/1 Percussionist, 10/1 Aidan O’Brien Stable, 12/1 Day Flight.

Northumberland Plate, Newcastle Saturday; 7/2 Anakpeaken, 5/1 Barolo, 7/1 Escayola, 7/1 Dorothys Friend, 7/1 Jagger, 8/1 Promoter.

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