Irish Derby set for biggest field in 12 years

Irish Derby entry Saxon Warrior
Saxon Warrior

Ireland’s leading flat trainer Aidan O’Brien will launch a 4-pronged attack on the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby this Saturday at the Curragh.

Ireland’s premier Classic has attracted the biggest field for an Irish Derby since 2006. O’Brien’s English 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior is joined in the field by stable companions, Delano Roosevelt, Rostropovich and The Pentagon.

His son Joseph, who was successful in the race as a jockey aboard Cameot and Australia, will have his first runner in the classic as a trainer. He will saddle Latrobe, for which his brother Donnacha will ride.

Also having his first runner in the race is Tipperary-based trainer Fozzy Stack when his impressive Curragh maiden winner Carlo Biraghi takes his chance along with the Jim Bolger-trained Theobald.

Epsom Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee and trainer Mark Johnston will be looking for their first success in the race, and he is joined by a strong British representation with Old Persian and Knight To Behold standing their ground at this morning’s declaration stage.

Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride Knight To Behold for trainer Harry Dunlop who is aiming to emulate his father, John, who won the Irish Derby in 1978 with Shirley Heights and Salsabil in 1990.

Following victory in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last week Charlie Appleby supplemented Old Persian for the Irish Derby on Tuesday morning and William Buick will ride the son of Dubawi as the Newmarket based trainer looks to complete the English and Irish Derby double for Godolphin.

Mick Halford will have just his second runner in the Irish Derby with Gallinule Stakes winner Platinum Warrior taking up his entry in the race.

Halford, who grew up just miles from the Curragh Racecourse, is looking forward to running the son of Galileo.

“The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby is a wonderful race and we are all very excited to have a runner in it,” Halford said. “Platinum Warrior’s preparation has gone well and he is a straightforward horse so we’ve had no headaches on that front.

“His homework has been very good and we were pleased with him on the Curragh last Tuesday morning so we are looking forward to the race itself now. He seems to be a colt improving with racing.”

Dermot Weld relies on the unbeaten Bandua as he looks to win another Irish Derby.

“We’ve been fortunate to win the race three times and I would be more hopeful than confident, but I am very happy with Bandua and if there’s going to be an upset I hope it can be him” Weld said.

“It looks a good renewal of the race and it has been strengthened by the horses that have been supplemented.

“He has been so effective on a soft surface; whether he can adapt on a faster surface remains to be seen. The reason I am running him is he is working extremely well.

“He is American bred so you would expect him to handle faster ground but he bends his knee and that is why he was so effective on soft ground. That said, I still think he has a realistic chance of running a big race and if you are not in you can’t win.”

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