Saturday 17 March 2018

Godolphin tactical move to drive Libertarian charge

John Oxx: Runs Little White Cloud in Derby
John Oxx: Runs Little White Cloud in Derby

Chris McGrath

Having seen Dawn Approach get unhinged by a slow pace at Epsom, Godolphin seem determined to retain control of their own destiny with recent purchase Libertarian in Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

The Elaine Burke-trained colt, which charged home for second behind Ruler Of The World as Dawn Approach was tailing off at Epsom, will run in Godolphin colours for the first time when making his final appearance for the current handler at the Co Kildare venue.

The winner of York's Dante will be joined by Godolphin's Cap O'Rushes as security against a lack of pace in his rematch with Aidan O'Brien's Derby hero. Stoutly bred as he is, Libertarian did well to make up so much ground in a sprint finish at Epsom, having been left with plenty to do when failing to handle the descent into Tattenham Corner. He will again be ridden by William Buick.

Karl Burke, the trainer's husband and assistant, said: "It's a great privilege and an honour to have a Classic runner for such prestigious owners and we're very grateful to Sheikh Mohammed and his team for the opportunity.

"No doubt the Curragh will suit him better than Epsom as he's a big, galloping horse. I thought he handled Epsom as good as could be expected."

Four of the 11 colts still in contention are trained by O'Brien, who has so dominated the Irish Derby in recent years. These are headed by Ruler Of The World.

Galileo Rock – third at Epsom – must also reverse form with Sugar Boy, which had beaten him at Sandown in April when Libertarian was behind them both that day, albeit with excuses.

Another fresh factor in the equation is Little White Cloud, bred to improve at the longer trip. "He's an outsider," his trainer John Oxx, acknowledged. "But he is a nice horse and has run well in two trials after he had a virus."

Patrick Prendergast was pleased with how Sugar Boy handled the ground at the Curragh yesterday morning as his candidate worked at the racecourse.

The Authorized colt has not run since winning that Sandown Classic Trial in April as Prendergast has specifically waited for the Curragh Classic.

Prendergast was keen to see how he coped and both the trainer and jockey Chris Hayes were pleasantly surprised at how well he handled a much quicker surface than he is used to racing on.

"He moved beautifully. We held on to him a little bit. He travelled well and looks in great nick, but there's no prize money out there today," said Prendergast, who took out a licence in 2003 after spells with Ed Dunlop and Michael Stoute, and whose grandfather 'Darkie' Prendergast won the race in 1965 with Meadow Court.

"That's the best ground I've rode him on and he strode out fine," Hayes said.

Jim Bolger will saddle Trading Leather, which ran so well behind Magician in the Irish Guineas.

"He's very well and has just been out for his morning exercise," said Bolger. "He'll be my only runner in the race."

Paddy Power make Ruler Of The World their 5/4 favourite with Sugar Boy a 13/2 chance.

Paddy Power said: "Aidan has won the race a record 10 times and English Derby hero Ruler Of The World is a worthy favourite. But Godolphin sticking with William Buick for Libertarian looks a wise move as the pair gel so very well and I'm sure he'll be shorter come the weekend." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Derby – Paddy Power bet: 5/4 Ruler Of The World, 4/1 Libertarian, 5/1 Battle Of Marengo, Trading Leather, 13/2 Galileo Rock, Sugar Boy, 14/1 bar.

Irish Independent

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