Timeform Irish Derby Preview: Behold the each-way play

The Irish Derby takes place at the Curragh on Saturday
The Irish Derby takes place at the Curragh on Saturday

Timeform pick out their best bet in the Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday...

With Masar heading to the Eclipse at Sandown next instead of having a crack at this, Saxon Warrior has been installed as the odds-on favourite. He was sent off a short-priced favourite for the Derby after his impressive win in the Guineas at Newmarket, but he wasn't in the same form, on his toes beforehand (unlike in the Guineas) and perhaps finding the experience getting to him. Although he lost his unbeaten record, he may yet emerge the best of that field, not seeming as effective on the track as some of the principals, and well worth another try at this trip; he will prove hard to beat if back in the sort of form he showed at Newmarket.

The Mark Johnston-trained Dee Ex Bee finished three lengths in front of Saxon Warrior when runner-up at Epsom and was supplemented for this race at a cost of €100,000 on Tuesday. He has taken his form to a new level since having his stamina drawn out, proving himself a very smart performer, and there's no reason why he won't remain competitive for a while yet. The likely fast ground is a slight question mark, however, as his best form has come on good or softer, and he could find things happening too quickly if conditions stay the same; he should stay at least a mile and three quarters.

Old Persian, who looked better than ever when winning the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, was also supplemented on Tuesday. He keeps on progressing steadily, climbing the ranks all the while, and the step up to a mile and a half was the catalyst for the improvement he showed to win again. Admittedly, this represents another jump in class, but he hails from a good yard who are enjoying a fine season, and should continue to give a good account.

Gallinule Stakes winner Platinum Warrior completes the trio who were supplemented at the four-day stage. He produced a career best to beat Latrobe by two and a quarter lengths at the Curragh last month, and given the style of that Group 3 victory, it's hard to think that will be his limit. Latrobe has since completed a simple task in a maiden over C&D, and is open to more improvement, so it wouldn't be a surprise were he to finish much closer this time around.

Of the yard's other runners, Kew Gardens would have a good chance on form, but wouldn't be sure to take his chance given how comfortable he looked over the longer trip when winning the Queen's Vase over a mile and three quarters at Royal Ascot last week. Delano Roosevelt wouldn't be without a chance having shaped better than the bare result behind Old Persian last time, too far back in a race that was steadily run. He was no threat in the closing stages, but finished with running left, and was strong in the market that day. Nelson and Rostropovich also ran well at Royal Ascot last week, and though it's fairly clear already that they are not in the top bracket at Ballydoyle, they would still merit respect. The Pentagon was a little disappointing in the Derby last time, seemingly not seeing his race out, and has a bit to prove now.

At a big price, Knight To Behold wouldn't be without hope, having also not been seen to best effect in the Derby last time. He was well ridden to win the Lingfield Derby Trial (by three and a quarter lengths from Kew Gardens), but didn't receive as good a ride at Epsom, asked to do too much too soon and a spent force early in the straight, ultimately finishing well beaten. Knight To Behold deserves another chance on just his fifth career start, and could out-run his odds in a race lacking depth.

Of the remainder, the unbeaten Bandua is interesting, for all he has only won a couple of four-runner races. He hasn't been seen since early-May, and was reportedly set to take in the Gallinule Stakes, which is a slight concern, but he is potentially smart and may be able to improve enough to run into a place if taking his chance.

Carlo Biraghi and Theobold complete the entries, but it would be a surprise were they good enough to trouble the principals.

The ante-post market for the Irish Derby is very one sided, dominated by the Derby second and fourth. If Saxon Warrior returns to the sort of level he ran to in the Guineas, then he will be clearly hard to beat, but not yet proven at the trip, his is worth opposing at his current price. Dee Ex Bee seems sure to run his race, but is another who is priced accordingly, and it could be worth backing Knight To Behold each-way at bigger odds. He is a definite runner here, trainer Harry Dunlop has snapped up Frankie Dettori for the ride, and the Lingfield winner will reportedly be ridden with more restraint this time and his performance at Lingfield last month is still fresh in the memory.

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