Timeform Preview: Irish Derby

Aidan O'Brien
Can Aidan O'Brien land a thirteenth win in the Irish Derby?

Timeform preview the Irish Derby at the Curragh, which takes place on Saturday, and pick out their best bet.

"...travelling with much more zest than the majority in the straight..."

Timeform on Madhmoon

The 2018 Irish Derby will go down in history, not because of the performance of Latrobe, who was just an average winner of the race, but for the fact that he was ridden and trained by two brothers, Joseph and Donnacha, who denied their father Aidan a thirteenth win in the race. Aidan O'Brien saddled the next four home, though, and just to underline how much of a family affair this race has become in recent years, Latrobe was from the first crop of Camelot whom Joseph himself rode to victory in 2012. There's no chance of Joseph raining on his father's parade in this year's renewal as he hasn't got a runner, but Aidan is represented by five of the eight-strong field, making him long odds-on to record his twelfth winner this century.

It is Anthony Van Dyck who leads the Coolmore challenge, following an unbeaten 2019 so far, recording wins in the Lingfield Derby Trial and the Derby at Epsom, showing much improved form on the latter occasion to beat the reopposing Madhmoon by half a length. Anthony Van Dyck had come up short at the highest level as a juvenile, but he has come into his own over middle distances this season, clearly taking after his sire Galileo rather than his sprinting dam. His success at Epsom looked unlikely two furlongs from home, until he was switched over a furlong out and began to run on strongly, ultimately winning with a bit in hand. Stablemates Circus Maximus and Japan have both franked the form at Royal Ascot, and there could be even more to come from Anthony Van Dyck at this trip; he deserves to head the betting having already won at this track as a two-year-old.

Broome, Il Paradiso, Norway and Sovereign make up O'Brien's quintet, but realistically it is only the first-named who has a chance of running out victorious. Broome finished fourth in the Epsom showpiece, only beaten half a length in what was a blanket finish for the runner-up spot, coping perfectly well with the return to firmer going, and having no problem with the two furlong longer trip. You can argue that he was unlucky not to finish even closer or win, the sweeping move he made round the outside entering the straight bound to have eaten up plenty of petrol, and he showed a good attitude to stay on all the way to the line. On that evidence, he may be suited by even more emphasis on stamina, and looks an ideal St Leger type, but nonetheless he hasn't much ground to make up on his stablemate and he is no back number here.

The horse looking to spoil the Coolmore party is Madhmoon, who by and large shaped like the best horse in the race at Epsom, another who proved his stamina for the much longer trip. He stepped up significantly from his run in the 2000 Guineas a month earlier, travelling with much more zest than the majority in the straight, and in the end was just outpointed by a stronger stayer. Madhmoon was always travelling strongly, showing no ill effects towards the track, but did stumble briefly on the home turn before making good progress in the straight, probably getting to the front sooner than ideal. Connections will likely be eager to play their hand a little later this time, now knowing he stays the trip fine, and if that is the play, his turn of foot in the closing stages could prove decisive.

Dermot Weld did the English and Irish Derby double with Harzand in 2016, but his runner Rakan will have to show much improved form to trouble the principals here. He was beaten four and three quarter lengths by Broome in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on his reappearance, and duly built on that to win a three-runner listed event at the same course last time. Rakan was no more than workmanlike on that occasion, and the form doesn't look anything special, but this lightly-raced type remains open to improvement and is worth a crack at this.

The Jim Bolger-trained Guaranteed makes up the line-up. He ended last season winning a Group 3 at Leopardstown, and got back to winning ways after being highly tried earlier this season in a listed race at this course last time. Guaranteed very much had the run of the race on that occasion, seen to better effect than most, but he proved very tenacious in the closing stages under a penalty. He is yet to race beyond a mile and a quarter, but leaves the impression he will stay this far, though whether he is good enough to figure is another question.


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