Wings Of Eagles pre­pares for an in­trigu­ing clash

O’Brien’s spear­head to ri­val Waldgeist in soft con­di­tions

The National - News - Sport - - LEADING OFF - Amith Pas­sela apas­sela@then­

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.

Anthony Devlin / AFP

Padraig Beggy, pink cap, rides Wings Of Eagles to vic­tory at the Ep­som Derby in June.

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