Rock ready to roll at Curragh

Dermot Weld is hoping Fascinating Rock will be better suited by the Curragh track in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby than he was by the contours of Epsom.

Rock ready to roll at Curragh

Winner of a Leopardstown maiden on the first day of the season, he followed up in the Ballysax Stakes and was awarded the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial by the Leopardstown stewards.

He managed only eighth in the Investec Derby on his first attempt at 12 furlongs, but rather than using the trip as an excuse, Weld believes it was the ups and downs of Epsom that did not suit.

“Fascinating Rock has done really well since Epsom,” said Weld.

“The horse just didn’t handle the track that day and we expect a better showing from him on Saturday.”

John Oxx ran Ebanoran at Epsom but felt he failed to get home over the trip so is he turns to Ponfeigh, who has two wins over a mile this season.

“Ponfeigh has had two quick runs but he is in good order,” said Oxx.

“We have always liked this horse and he has a nice turn of foot. Obviously the step up in grade and trip is unknown territory for him but he is entitled to take his chance.”

The race obviously revolves around Epsom winner Australia, who is one of seven possibles for Aidan O’Brien.

He is likely to be a very warm order to emulate his former stablemate Camelot, who completed the Classic double two years ago.

While O’Brien will be hoping the rain stays away for his new star, connections of Derby runner-up Kingston Hill will be hoping for rain to enable a rematch to take place.

“We’re looking at the weather. They are saying they could get up to 15 millimetres of rain and if that was the case, we’d love to run if we got good ground or easier,” said David Eustace, assistant to trainer Roger Varian.

As well as Australia, O’Brien could run Geoffrey Chaucer, who went wrong at Epsom, Kingfisher, Mekong River, Orchestra, Table Rock and War Command, who was a fast-finishing fourth over a mile in the St James’s Palace Stakes last week.

Godolphin’s True Story, one place in front of Fascinating Rock at Epsom, could also renew rivalry.

Roger Varian’s Ambivalent is one of 15 fillies and mares in contention for the Newbridge Silverware Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

She notched her first Group One win in the contest 12 months ago and went close in the Coronation Cup.

Other possible runners from Britain include Charlie Hills’ Just The Judge, Roger Charlton’s Thistle Bird and John Gosden’s unbeaten Pomology.

Venus De Milo, narrowly beaten in the Irish Oaks last year, looks the main Ballydoyle contender.

David Wachman’s Lahinch Classics was narrowly beaten by Epsom third Volume at Newbury while Eddie Lynam will be hoping his good run continues with Pearl Of Africa and John Oxx could run Harasiya.

Along Came Casey, Euphrasia and Avenue Gabrial, fourth in the Irish 1000 Guineas, complete the field.

Meanwhile, Kingman is likely to take on older horses for the first time in the Qipco Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on July 30.

The John Gosden-trained colt has proved himself as the pick of the three-year-old generation with victories in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stake.

The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes back at Ascot on Champions Day, October 18, is the long-term objective for the Khalid Abdullah-owned star.

lFormer Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford is to set up his own training business, subject to BHI approval.

Crisford, who worked for Sheikh Mohammed’s operation since its inception in 1994, left his position to take up the role of global racing advisor to the Maktoum family in February.

He is to start out in his new career by renting out part of Clive Brittain’s Carlburg Stables in Newmarket.

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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