Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 20 January 2018

Derby tilt on cards for Monterosso

Monterosso: heading to the Curragh. Photo: Reuters
Monterosso: heading to the Curragh. Photo: Reuters

The Maktoum family may decide to beef up their challenge for Sunday's Irish Derby at the Curragh by supplementing last week's Royal Ascot winner Monterosso to join the ex-Irish Chabal in the field for the premier Irish Classic.

The Mark Johnston-trained Monterosso impressed Chabal's intended partner Frankie Dettori when landing Friday's King Edward VII Stakes at the Berkshire track and it would cost €125,000 to add the colt to Sunday's showpiece.

Dettori has been Monterosso's partner for the horse's last three races but Godolphin's racing manager Simon Crisford indicated strongly yesterday that Chabal would be the Italian jockey's Curragh mount if the ground is suitable.

Formerly trained by Jim Bolger, Chabal won Sandown's Classic Trial for his new handler Saeed Bin Suroor before disappointing in fourth behind Cape Blanco and subsequent runaway Epsom victor Workforce on fast ground in York's Dante Stakes.

"We're going to leave Chabal in the race and see what the ground is like as he wouldn't want it too firm. He's done well since York -- he worked nicely on Friday morning so he's in good order and Frankie will be riding if he runs," said Crisford.

Curragh manager Paul Hensey is confident at this stage, however, that the surface at headquarters will be perfectly safe for the three-day Derby Festival, which commences on Friday evening, before which the weather is due to break.

"We have been watering for the past 10 days as we took a view then there was no imminent chance of a change," said Hensey. "So we've been into it early and the back is broken of that job, which makes it very manageable. We are watering the straight and the round course.

"Then we could get between five and six millimetres of rain during Wednesday into Thursday, which would be welcome, before the forecast suggests it will be fine again over the weekend, though maybe not as warm as it has been."

Thus the going description may continue as good to firm until the weather front passes and may also help to ease the concerns of local hero Dermot Weld and Newmarket's Michael Bell ahead of proposed appearances by Profound Beauty and Sariska.

Melbourne Cup fancy Profound Beauty could attempt to repeat last year's victory in the Curragh Cup on Saturday rather tackling the same afternoon's Audi Pretty Polly Stakes, in which Bell hopes to saddle last season's dual Oaks heroine Sariska.

Neither trainer would be prepared to risk these star performers on a lively surface despite the understandable lure of Group One honours in the Audi promotion, which attracted 18 initial acceptors yesterday, seven of them from England.

That septet included John Gosden's High Heeled, which was third to Fame And Glory and Sariska in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and whose stable companion Dar Re Mi took the Pretty Polly Stakes en route to even greater glory globally last season.

An English contingent of seven could figure, too, among the dozen declared entries for the Curragh Cup, the most notable opposition to Profound Beauty and John Oxx's Roses For The Lady being Roger Charlton's 2009 Irish St Leger runner-up Clowance, Saptapadi for Michael Stoute and John Dunlop's supplemented Tactic.

The last named, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, gets his chance for Group Three glory after romping home by 14 lengths at York last time round.

Two other English contenders, Michael Jarvis' Opinion Poll and Alan Swinbank's Merchant Of Dubai, are both still in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle the same day.

Irish Independent

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