Wings Of Eagles prepares for an intriguing clash
O’Brien’s spearhead to rival Waldgeist in soft conditions
Waldgeist and Cracksman will pose greatest challenge for O’Brien’s ward in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, writes Amith Passela.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby field has been trimmed to just nine runners, five of which are trained by Aidan O’Brien.
However, the depleted field does not make the €1.5 million (Dh6.3m) Irish Classic short of quality.
An intriguing battle is on the card between Wings Of Eagles and Cracksman, winner and third in the English Derby, and Waldgeist, the French Derby runner-up, at the Curragh today. Wings Of Eagles spearheads O’Brien’s challenge as the trainer bids for a 12th Irish Derby title and his 10th Group 1 prize for the season.
The bay son of Pour Moir will also be attempting to become the fifth colt to complete the Epsom-Curragh Derby double for O’Brien.
Ryan Moore takes the ride on Wings Of Eagles after Padraig Beggy produced an electrifying late run to win at Epsom, from stable companion Cliffs Of Moher – under Moore – and Cracksman ridden by Frankie Dettori.
The Moore-O’Brien partnership is the one to follow of the five from the Ballydoyle yard that include Douglas Macarthur, Taj Mahal, The Anvil and Capri, whose best form is on slow ground. The Andre Farbe-trained Waldgeist steps up to 12 furlongs for the first time. He is set to pose the main challenge for the prize, particularly with the rains expected and the underfoot conditions set to change to soft.
The chestnut son of Galileo under Jean Pierre-Charles Boudot was a short head second in his last start behind the high-class Brametot in the Prix du Jockey Club, also known as the French Derby.
Previously, he had the O’Brien runners Capri, Douglas Macarthur, Taj Mahal and Wings Of Eagles trailing behind him when winning the Group 1 Saint-Cloud Criterium on soft ground in October.
Cracksman carries the British hopes and his chances cannot be ruled out even if the underfoot conditions change.
The Frankel colt was pulled out of the Dante Stakes at York in May for the same reasons and that may be a concern, but he has won on good to soft turf in his racecourse debut last October.
Pat Smullen is deputising for the injured Frankie Dettori on the John Gosden-trained runner. The Irishman is bidding for his third Irish Derby and was onboard the winner, Harzand, 12 months ago.
Dubai Sand, trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, carries the Godolphin silks in the race. The Jessica Harrington-trained Grandee completes the line-up.
Dubai Sands has a Listed win last season but finished behind some of the runners in today’s field on the two starts this season.
Padraig Beggy, pink cap, rides Wings Of Eagles to victory at the Epsom Derby in June.