Cracking Curragh contest in prospect

The first six home in the Epsom Derby could all lock horns once again in the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish version at the Curragh on Sunday.

The first six home in the Epsom Derby could all lock horns once again in the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish version at the Curragh on Sunday.

Winner New Approach and runner-up Tartan Bearer pulled nearly five lengths clear of Casual Conquest, Doctor Fremantle, Washington Irving and Alessandro Volta – all of whom could reoppose.

In what many are calling a vintage renewal of the Epsom Classic, Sunday will be the first chance to see if the form stands up to close scrutiny.

As well as the first six, also-rans such as Curtain Call, Frozen Fire and Bashkirov could make the line-up.

The John Gosden-trained Centennial tries his luck after finishing fourth behind Tartan Bearer in the Dante over 10 furlongs but his Irish owner Michael O’Flynn expects the 12-furlong trip to be more up his street.

“I was at Sandown and it was a nice performance, but it looks a hot race on Sunday in different company,” said O’Flynn.

“The Dante was a bit fast for him and the trip was wrong and I think that he will be much more suited by the mile and four furlongs in the Derby and we’ll find out at the weekend.”

The recent rain in Ireland should suit Centennial, who was only two lengths behind Raven’s Pass on his debut last July.

“We always have rain in Ireland!” joked the owner. “I think that’s good news.”

Gosden has also supplemented the 86-rated Upton Grey but as both he and New Approach are owned by Princess Haya of Jordan, he appears a likely pacemaker.

One who has less than most to make up on the front two in the betting is Dermot Weld’s Casual Conquest, who was having only the third race of his life at Epsom.

“He’s a lovely big horse and still very immature but a very good one,” said Weld.

“We’re hopeful (he can get his revenge). It’s going to be another great race. It’s going to be very tough to reverse the places with the first two but we’ll try.

“We think he’ll be better suited by the Curragh but you could say the same about the others as well.

“Epsom these days is a very fair track, there’s no excuses. He handled the track at Epsom and he’s come out of the race sound and well and we are looking forward to Sunday and the Irish Derby.

“For a very big horse, he is a very balanced horse and I think he has learned from Epsom. I’d be very hopeful of a big run on Sunday.

“He’s more similar to my second Derby winner Grey Swallow rather than Zagreb as he’s a stayer with speed.

“I think this year’s Epsom Derby was a very good race, a vintage renewal, and I’m confident he’ll run a big race,” he told At The Races.

William Hill’s Irish spokesman Tony Kenny commented: “It looks like a cracking race, and I’d say the new sponsors are delighted with the quality of the entries.

“New Approach looks like the horse to beat in the race, and it has come as no surprise to us that he is the horse the punters have latched on to.

“After his Epsom Derby triumph we gave New Approach a quote of 11-10 for the Irish Derby, but that price has long since gone.

“He’s currently available at 4-5 for the race, but we wouldn’t be too surprised to see him go off closer to 1-2.”

Hills are also offering odds of 14-1 that the first three home in the Epsom Derby fill the exact same positions in the Irish Derby.

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