Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Russian' can get raiders off the mark at Curragh

British hopes rest upon the shoulders of the John Gosden-trained Cracksman, which was just a length behind Wings Of Eagles when third at Epsom. Photo: Getty Images
British hopes rest upon the shoulders of the John Gosden-trained Cracksman, which was just a length behind Wings Of Eagles when third at Epsom. Photo: Getty Images

Johnny Ward

A Paul Midgley runner in Ireland is a rare thing and the hint is taken this evening on the eve of Derby day at Flat headquarters on the Curragh plains.

In Russian Realm, the Englishman may hold the key to today's sprint handicap. Considering he came from behind, his run at Chester last time was an excellent effort at a really tricky track, and the bottom line is that British sprint handicappers tend to be favourably treated over here.

Billy Lee is booked on a horse that would eat these for brekkie if anywhere near his best; he is hard to oppose.

The Hackett Apprentice Derby is one of the highlights of the season for these fledgling riders and there are some talented prospects, including Oisin Orr. The Co Donegal rider steers Whatsforuwontgobyu, which represents the formidable team of JP McManus and Tony Martin.

This was put in at 14/1 last evening and that looks a price well worth taking. Quite a useful hurdler, he landed a major gamble at the Galway Festival two years ago, and his prep for this - at the Curragh over an inadequate ten furlongs - was encouraging.

Perhaps Joseph O'Brien, who won two Irish Derbies as a rider, can take the first race with Dream Malfunction. Described by her handler as "a nice filly", she has a notable pedigree and is a hopeful selection.

Casla looks a likely type in the Chapman's Mitsubishi Irish EBF Maiden for rookie handler Fozzy Stack. A daughter of Fastnet Rock, she shaped nicely on debut at Leopardstown, form that gives her an edge over Bowden.

Willie Mullins has ambitious plans for Riven Light on the level, starting with the Ragusa Handicap. Pat Smullen steers Rich Ricci's gelding, which may have scope off a rating of 90.

Perhaps Stack can double up in the Silken Thomas & Lock 13 Handicap with Gino Severini, which is intriguing now stepped up to ten furlongs. Another son of Fastnet Rock, everything about his racing style over shorter implies the yardage will bring about improvement.

Ger Lyons should fancy the chance of Cannonball in the nightcap. The stable has no runner in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, for which nine horses will fight tomorrow afternoon.

Epsom hero Wings Of Eagles will have an ally in Ryan Moore as he aims to provide trainer Aidan O'Brien with a 12th victory in the race. Capri, Douglas Macarthur, Taj Mahal and The Anvil also represent the trainer.

British hopes rest upon the shoulders of the John Gosden-trained Cracksman, which was just a length behind Wings Of Eagles when third at Epsom. Gosden, who broke his Irish Derby duck with Jack Hobbs in 2015, was quick to snap up Pat Smullen to replace the injured Frankie Dettori.

The Jim Bolger-trained Dubai Sand and Grandee from Jessica Harrington's stable make up the home team. The field is completed by Andre Fabre's French Derby runner-up Waldgeist.

Meanwhile, Musselburgh edges closer to being a track which cannot hold racing as the British Horseracing Authority is yet to approve an extension to the licence which expires today. Unless the BHA becomes satisfied the racecourse is being properly run, the fixture on July 14 will not be allowed to take place.

Irish Independent

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