Hurricane Run was the last French-trained winner of the Irish Derby in 2005 but they have an excellent historic record in the race and Tony Keenan believes Waldgeist can give Andre Fabre a third win in the Curragh classic...
"Waldgeist could do with two things here: some rain and a strong pace. Looking at the forecast, the former seems likely and the latter is almost assured; Ballydoyle will know that Wings Of Eagles cannot compete without a good gallop and have the numbers in the field to ensure he gets it."
The typical Irish Derby market looks something like this: the Epsom winner is put in around even-money, which side of 2.01/1 depending on how impressive he was and the quality of the opposition; if that horse is absent, the highest-placed finisher is put in favourite and the layers work from there.
That approach is fine in the majority of years when the English Derby is won by a relatively fancied horse but 2017 was anything but typical as Wings Of Eagles, who had won only a Killarney maiden from five previous starts, returned at a Betfair SP of 65.1.
So what we have now is an unusual market with the first and third from Epsom trading around 3.02/1 and being chased up by the second from the Prix du Jockey Club with the rest trading at double figures. I expect the winner to come from that trio of Wings Of Eagles, Cracksman and Waldgeist so let's go through their respective claims for the big race on Saturday at 17:20.
Wings Of Eagles
It's difficult to argue that Wings Of Eagles wasn't the best horse on the day at Epsom; his overall time was good if not brilliant, sectionals suggested he merited a slight upgrade and he met trouble in the run too. There is a chance we look back on Sunday and think he was a great bet at north of 3.02/1 as in the average year he's closer to 2.01/1.
But there are negatives with him. He handled Epsom, both the track and the experience, better than the three that chased him home; Cliffs Of Moher got buzzed up in the preliminaries, Cracksman didn't travel from an early stage while Eminent had a few small things go against him, not least his rider dropping his whip. Wings Of Eagles on the other hand seemed to relish the unique test.
Then there is his temperament which is easy to call into question when you view replays of his previous runs; it was there in his maiden win, it was there in Chester and it was even there at Epsom. He could be a horse that relished behind ridden cold last time, a set of circumstances that is unlikely to unfold in Saturday's smaller field.
But most of all there are his connections that rarely get horses like him wrong; they seemed as surprised as anyone by his win. Since 2003, Aidan O'Brien has trained 126 Group 1 winners aged three or older and only four of those were returned at 16/1 or bigger; that group comprised Frozen Fire, Homecoming Queen, Was and Qualify and none of them won a race of any sort afterwards.
John Gosden has a magnificent record with his runners in Ireland but beyond that it is hard to see why Cracksman is quite so short for this; he looks priced up on what the betting was going into Epsom more than what unfolded on the track. There should be more to come from him after only three starts but his inability to travel smoothly through the race last time, for whatever reason, was disconcerting. He has his chance, an obvious one in fact if improving for last time, but it is not as obvious as the betting suggests.
Reading Andre Fabre's comments after Waldgeist won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, a race where he had Capri, Douglas Macarthur, Taj Mahal and Wings Of Eagles behind, one gets the sense that the Irish Derby has been a long-term plan for him. The most important thing for him here is that he finally gets to run over 12 furlongs, a trip he shapes like needing and is bred to relish.
His second at Chantilly was a fine effort and the whole Brametot form line was endorsed through Royal Ascot with good efforts from Le Brivido, Taj Mahal and Orderofthegarter. Nor is it crazy to suggest that Waldgeist could have won on the day as he met trouble-in-running and raced closer to a strong gallop than the winner.
Waldgeist could do with two things here: some rain and a strong pace. Looking at the forecast, the former seems likely and the latter is almost assured; Ballydoyle will know that Wings Of Eagles cannot compete without a good gallop and have the numbers in the field to ensure he gets it. That makes Waldgeist the bet at around 4.57/2 with his only disappointing efforts coming in races when he didn't have his stamina tested.
Back Waldgiest at 4.57/2 for the Irish Derby