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IrishDerbyDay 020723 SportPreview

Irish Derby Day Preview – Sunday 2nd July

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The Curragh Preview… 02/07/2023

We have moved into the second half of the year and with the arrival of July comes the Irish Derby. Our team have some selections for the undercard at the Curragh, starting at 1:50.

Curragh Racecourse

1:50 Gain Railway Stakes (Group 2)

The makeup of this race has been fascinating this week, with several of the more likely types holding entries despite running at Royal Ascot last week.

However, the more time we spent looking at this race, the more it became obvious that the most likely winner was a horse who had not been to Ascot at all, Unquestionable. Aiden O’Brien has a good record in this race, winning it 11 times since 2000, but his last win came in 2018 with Van Beethoven. By his incredibly high standards that could be considered a barren patch, but Unquestionable should change that.

He was pitched into Listed company for his debut, finishing a 3-length third to His Majesty in the First Flier Stakes in early May and built on that promise to win a maiden by 4-lengths over this course and distance 5-weeks ago. That form has yet to be fully tested, but he produced a time figure of 97 and won in the manner of a pattern class performer. He should be suited by the quicker conditions and not going to Ascot could give him the edge.

2:25 Jebel Ali Racecourse & Stables Dash Stakes (Listed Race)

Most of this field is beginning to look exposed and those with the higher ratings do not look to be progressing particularly fast, but the same cannot be said for our selection Tango Flare.

Trained by Patrick Foley, he has been a revelation since dropping back to sprint trips this summer and has already notched impressive wins at Cork and Fairyhouse over 6-furlongs. After winning his maiden at Cork, he took his form to a new level when winning a Median Auction race at Fairyhouse despite having to race wide around the turn. He showed a great attitude to close down the leaders in the final furlong, despite conceding weight all round.

This is a step up in class and he will need to improve again, but unlike most of his rivals his career does seem to be on an upward trajectory and further improvement seems likely. He may not need to find more than 5lbs to feature in this race and in his current form he makes a lot of appeal on this first run in pattern company.

3:00 Dubai Duty Free Rockingham (Premier Handicap)

As usual, this race is extremely difficult to try to solve and any bet placed would be a small stake, but we do have a selection from our tracker in the shape of Silmaniya.

Trained by Johnny Murtagh, she had a busy campaign last season which culminated in a Nursery win at Navan in September before a creditable 5th in the Legacy Stakes at Dundalk 3-weeks later. She made her 2023 bow in a Premier Handicap over this course and distance 3-weeks ago. Although the form book will show that she finished 7th, she was beaten less than 3-lengths and she shaped like a horse who would be much sharper next time. Having been dropped in behind what was only a steady early gallop, she was never able to get herself on terms but kept trying all the way to the line.

That run did at least confirm that she should be competitive in this company as a 3-year-old and a mark of 87 (she has been dropped 3lbs for that comeback run) looks very fair on the pick of her 2-year-old form. With such a big field going to post, she will need some luck in running, but she remains unexposed and represents some fair each-way value.

3:40 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Group 1) (No Geldings) (3yo)

Watch our video preview of the Irish Derby for our partners at Novibet.ie.

5:25 Dubai Duty Free Celebration Stakes (Listed Race)

It’s very unusual to find a pattern race in Ireland that Aiden O’Brien doesn’t do well in, but this race fits that bill as the master of Ballydoyle hasn’t won this race since 2014.

We are keen to take him on this year and the horse who makes the most appeal is Hellsing. Ger Lyons Colt had some very smart form last season, winning a Listed race at Tipperary and separating Proud and Regal and Age of Kings when he finished 2nd in the Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown in July. He signed off his 2-year-old campaign by finishing second in a valuable sales race in September over this course and distance.

We can upgrade that form as he was the only horse to race prominently and still be involved at the finish and the winner, Galeron, went on to finish 4th in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Although the absence is a concern, the yard can get a horse prepared to run well off a break and with a decent record at the Curragh, the horse could easily prove to be better than this grade and is worth chancing.

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