Ruler ‘in good form’ for Curragh

All the leading protagonists in a potentially thrilling renewal of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby have been reported to be thriving and on target for the Curragh highlight on Saturday evening.

Ruler Of The World heads a list of 11 six-day acceptors and is looking to emulate stablemate Camelot, who recorded the English-Irish Derby double last year.

Speaking via a telephone link at yesterday’s press conference at the Curragh, Aidan O’Brien declared the favourite to be “in good form” while also indicating that Festive Cheer was a “possible” participant.

“We have been very happy with (Ruler Of The World) since Epsom and he is our main hope for Saturday’s race,” said O’Brien. “He impressed us at Epsom and we think the Curragh will suit him even better.”

Epsom runner-up Libertarian (William Buick yesterday confirmed to ride) has since been bought by Godolphin and will be having his final start for Elaine Burke before joining the Saeed Bin Suroor yard.

If Libertarian is victorious, Burke will be the first female licence-holder to train a winner of the Irish Derby in its 147-year history.

“He came out of Epsom very, very well” declared the handler’s husband, Karl. “He had an easy week or two and after that, we picked up his work and he’s definitely come on again.

“There’s no doubt (the Curragh) will suit him better than Epsom. He’s a big, galloping horse. I thought he handled Epsom every bit as well as we could have expected.

“It was just unfortunate that the pace of the race meant he wasn’t in as good a position as he would have been with a stronger gallop. Hopefully the gallop will be truer on Saturday.”

To that end Cap O’Rushes, who like Libertarian was supplemented yesterday morning, is likely to act as a pacemaker.

Trading Leather was second to Libertarian in the Dante Stakes at York in May and after finishing third over the insufficient mile in the Irish 2000 Guineas, was an easy winner of the 10-furlong Silver Stakes two weeks later.

“He’s certainly not going backwards!” said trainer, Jim Bolger. “He’s been eating well, his weight is back on and he looks very well.”

Bolger claimed the Irish Derby with St Jovite 21 years ago on a memorable day when he saddled five winners in total.

“We’ll settle for that again. Or even 50% of it,” he joked.

Sugar Boy had a gentle workout on the Curragh racetrack yesterday morning and Patrick Prendergast was very pleased afterwards.

“He moved beautifully” enthused Prendergast. “We held on to him a little bit. He travelled well and looks in great nick but there’s no prize-money out there today.

“It was a little quick for him but I was delighted how he moved. That’s as good as he goes at home. He never kills himself and only does what he has to.”

John Oxx saddles Little White Cloud and while he concedes that his charge doesn’t deserve to be near the head of the betting, a bigger gap between his races after a rushed preparation, allied with the 12-furlong trip and expected fast ground could bring about significant improvement.

“He’s an outsider but is a nice horse and ran well in two trials” Oxx stated.

“He ran well behind Battle Of Marengo at Leopardstown and that was just four weeks after he had a bit of a virus. It was plenty soon enough to be running him and I thought he ran well.

“We came here two weeks later, which was again quick enough and ran well again. Both those races were a mile-and-a-quarter and he’s a mile-and-a-half horse.

“He needs to improve 10lbs to be competitive. I think he will improve a certain amount. I’d love to think he’ll improve 10lbs and whether he can do that, I don’t know.”

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