Dalakhani set to rule at the Curragh

A mouth-watering prospect is on the cards at the Curragh on Sunday week when Vodafone Derby hero Kris Kin could clash with Dalakhani, the winner of the Prix du Jockey-Club, in the Budweiser Irish Derby.

A mouth-watering prospect is on the cards at the Curragh on Sunday week when Vodafone Derby hero Kris Kin could clash with Dalakhani, the winner of the Prix du Jockey-Club, in the Budweiser Irish Derby.

Add The Great Gatsby and Alamshar, who were second and third to Kris Kin at Epsom, and all the ingredients are there for a Classic to savour at the Curragh.

The Aga Khan could well hold the aces as both Dalakhani and Alamshar carry his famous colours.

Should he travel to Ireland, it would be the first time that Dalakhani has raced outside of France.

Connections though will be keeping an eye on the weather.

The owner’s spokesman and manager of his Irish studs Pat Downes said: “The plan is for Dalakhani and Alamshar to run in the Budweiser Irish Derby. But the ground situation will be very important if it’s to happen.

“Alain de Royer-Dupre and John Oxx will train the two horses for the race. However, if the ground is soft then Alamshar will not run and if it comes up very soft then neither horse will run.”

Dalakhani retained his unbeaten record at Chantilly with a brilliant two lengths win over Super Celebre and he has pleased in his work since.

Royer-Dupre said: “He did a nice canter on his own and looks in really good shape. We certainly haven’t excluded the idea that he’ll go to Ireland for the Derby. In fact, it’s probable if all goes well.”

The Aga Khan’s likely dual assault, if successful, would equal his grandfather’s record of five Irish Derby wins.

Dalakhani looked extra special at Chantilly, while Kris Kin did not look bad either when swopping late to score at Epsom.

However, it must be remembered that he ducked the French Derby and a clash with Dalakhani.

If a showdown with Kris Kin is to materialise, connections of the Epsom hero, who was supplemented at a cost of €130,000, will again have to get the chequebook out and this time spend €136,000 to add their star to the Derby field.

Other possible Curragh rivals include Aidan O’Brien’s Derby runner-up The Great Gatsby, Brian Boru, who disappointed at Epsom, and Powerscourt.

But it is hard to get away from Dalakhani, who can show he is a colt right out of the top drawer.

There is Derby of a totally different variety at Newcastle next Saturday, - the Pitmen’s Derby, or the €251,000 John Smith’s Northumberland Plate as it officially known.

James Given decided to bypass the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot with Tote Chester Cup winner Hugs Dancer for the Gosforth Park test over two miles in the hope that he can do better than his fourth last year.

“Hugs is in good order,” said the Gainsborough trainer. “We decided that we would keep him for the Northumberland Plate.”

Bay Of Islands, the winner in 2000, will bid for a repeat at the age of 11 after showing he had recovered from injury with victory at Doncaster.

Trainer Dave Morris said: “I’ve always had faith in him, but he’s had all sorts of problems, and last year he strained a suspensory ligament and we had to put him by for the season.

“I thought he’d suffered the same injury at Chester last time, and if he had he would have been retired, but he was struck into. He needed plenty of attention from the vets but has come back fine.

“He’s in the Plate again, and that’s his target,” he added.

Zibeline, described by his trainer Rod Millman as “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” was third 12 months ago and could go again.

The Peter Harris-trained Barathea Blazer, a Listed winner in France last time, ran well in big handicaps such as the Old Newton Cup and Tote Ebor without success last season.

Distinction has been reported on course for the race.

Harry Herbert, spokesman for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “Distinction ran well under a big weight at Goodwood last time, and the Plate looks an ideal race for him. He loves fast ground.”

However, the vote goes to Flownaway.

Willie Jarvis’s four-year-old had Distinction a length and a half and a short head back in third when winning over a mile and three-quarters at Goodwood.

He had earlier defeated Establishment over two miles at Ascot and was unsuited by the track when only tenth to Hugs Dancer in the Tote Chester Cup.

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