Saturday 24 February 2018

Libertarian best-placed to overthrow Ruler Of The World

Wayne Bailey

SIXTEEN horses have completed the English-Irish Derby double, the most recent of which was Camelot in 2012, and racegoers at the Curragh are in for a real treat this evening (6.30) as Aidan O'Brien's Ruler Of The World seeks to emulate his stablemate.

If successful, it will be O'Brien's eighth successive victory in the Classic and his 11th overall, so it's no surprise to see Ruler Of The World installed by the bookmakers as even-money favourite.

It's a cracking renewal, with the Epsom Derby second and third places Libertarian and Galileo Rock forming part of the nine-strong line-up, although, from a punting point of view, it's going to be a tough job to lighten the bookie satchels in the betting ring later as a strong case could be made for at least five runners. Arguably the most interesting is Patrick Prendergast's Sugar Boy, which beat Galileo Rock and Libertarian in a Sandown Classic Trial in April.

On that success, he obviously deserves respect, although he hasn't raced since and has some improving to do if he's to match the level of form both rivals showed in the Derby. A bit of rain would help and he's not dismissed lightly.

Considering O'Brien's record in the race, it's difficult to get away from Ruler Of the World and, while past form says he's definitely the one to beat, his short price is somewhat off-putting against a field bursting with potential.

At Epsom, Ryan Moore's timing was hard to fault and one suspects that a mile and a half at the Curragh will play to Ruler Of The World's strengths with Cap O'Rushes likely to set a nice pace.

But a good gallop will also suit Cap O'Rushes' soon-to-be stablemate Libertarian, which didn't seem crazy about the Epsom course yet still ran a blinder in second – even though the race didn't pan out as expected when Dawn Approach decided to act up.

He has since been bought by Godolphin and has been supplemented today at a considerable cost. A big galloping horse of which assistant trainer Karl Burke has said the Curragh will suit him better than Epsom, he's the value bet of the race at 7/2 in my book.

Jim Bolger's Trading Leather is another with claims and finished second to Libertarian in the Dante Stakes at York. Although never raced at a mile and a half, he put in a smart performance when taking a Listed event at the Curragh over a mile and a quarter.

Across the water at Newmarket, a chance is taken on Pastoral Player, around 3/1 in the Bet365 Criterion Stakes (3.30).

While it's over a year since the gelding was seen in the winner's enclosure, he has put in some noteworthy performances in seven races since, and was unlucky in-running last time when second by a short-head to Amarillo in the Group Three John of Gaunt at Haydock.

Graham Lee was forced to switch as they approached the final furlong, which may have scuppered his chance of winning that race for the second year straight, but he comes here in tip-top shape and just about gets the nod ahead of likely favourite Hawkeyethenoo.


WILLIAM Haggas' Sun Central won a good handicap at Salisbury on his seasonal debut this term, and I'll be surprised if he goes off as high as his forecast price of 12/1 in the John Smith's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle (3.15).

He was unlucky to come up against De Rigueur in a Class Two handicap at Haydock recently but he still put in a career-best race in second. The Galileo colt almost certainly has another win to come before the season is out.


2.05 Newcastle: Jack Dexter

3.15 Newcastle: Sun Central (e/w)

3.30 Newmarket: Pastoral Player

4.20 Newcastle: Fast Track

6.30 Curragh: Libertarian

Irish Independent

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