Paddy Twomey has made a name for himself since taking out his full licence in 2016 and the Tipperary-based trainer is eyeing his biggest scalp yet with French Claim in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
Epsom Derby third Westover, trained by Ralph Beckett, is a warm-order 5/4 favourite but Twomey is hoping for a big surprise from French Claim providing some rain arrives, as expected, ahead of the €1million Curragh showpiece.
The French Fifteen colt was last seen when third behind Stone Age in the Leopardstown Derby Trial and Twomey believes that there is more to come from the two-time winner.
“We swerved Epsom and we gave him the time for maybe the Irish Derby. In an ideal world he would like a drop of rain, I think he is probably a bit better with a bit of juice in the ground. We’ll see what the week does,” Twomey said of the 33/1 hope.
“If we could, we would run him. I’d say that ground was plenty quick for him the last day, it was probably a better run in the softer ground at Cork the previous time. He is a horse that is learning on the job and you might say the best is yet to come with him.”
Meanwhile, Curragh Racecourse CEO Brian Kavanagh is delighted to be overseeing his first Derby at the Kildare track since the turn of the Millennium, having also served as chief from 1995 to 1999 before taking the reins with Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) – where he served a 20-year tenure.
Just under 12,000 attended the 2019 Derby despite the fanfare around its reopening and Kavanagh reports “strong sales” as Irish racing’s HQ looks to bounce back from a difficult few years having lost plenty of public support since their costly redevelopment in recent years.
“It’s the first real clear run at the Derby now since the new facilities were built and we’re looking forward to showcasing them and getting racegoers back for the Derby.
“The eyes of the world are on the Curragh this weekend so we’re keen to put on a really good show,” Kavanagh told independent.ie yesterday.
“Ticket sales are strong. We’re running ahead of 2019, which is our last comparable year because of Covid. I’m more concerned about the people that come here having a good time and enjoying it and responding well to the place and then we can build attendances over time.”