There has been much debate about the cost of tickets and the amount of spectators likely to come through the turnstiles at the Curragh, but there’s no doubting the quality of today’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (3.45).
The biggest day of the Flat season at Irish racing’s headquarters should be reflected in the quality of the €1 million showpiece and a fascinating duel between Tuesday and Westover looks set to light up the Kildare track.
Tuesday flew to the head of the betting for the Curragh Classic when surprisingly supplemented by Aidan O’Brien and connections earlier this week and the Ballydoyle maestro will rely solely on the daughter of Galileo as he eyes a staggering 15th Irish Derby success.
None of his 14 to date have arrived via a filly, though, as Tuesday bids to follow in the footsteps of 1994 winner Balanchine and Ryan Moore’s mount gets a tasty 3lbs sex allowance from her seven rivals to aid her cause even further.
A bob of the head saw her edge out Emily Upjohn in a thrilling finale to the English Oaks earlier this month and stamina definitely looks to be her forte having stepped up significantly from her placed efforts in the English and Irish Guineas when tackling 1m4f for the first time at Epsom.
It only strengthens her case that Epsom third Nashwa has since gone on to land the Group One Prix Diane at Chantilly in great style on her next start and Tuesday is the one to beat – even on ratings where she stands 1lb better than Westover without taking into account her allowance.
Little separates the pair in the betting with the Ralph Beckett-trained Westover running a belter in the Epsom Derby when eventually overcoming a difficult passage in the home straight to fly home in third behind the brilliant winner Desert Crown.
There was plenty to like about how the Frankel colt finished out his race and the booking of three-time Irish champion jockey Colin Keane can only be a good thing given his brilliance at the track with two Classics already under his belt there. Can Westover help to make it three?
They are likely to fight out the finish but Westover may just come up short to Tuesday, while Lionel is the other British raider for trainer David Menuisier and Tipperary jockey Jamie Spencer having been put away for this following his Listed success at Goodwood last month.
The Lope De Vega colt really has it to prove against the market leaders, however, and the fly in the ointment (should there be one) is more likely to be Joseph O’Brien’s Hannibal Barca after he made a smooth transition to the Kilkenny trainer last month.
Fourth behind Luxembourg in the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster last October when trained by Brian Meehan, the son of Zoffany landed the Group Three Gallinule Stakes at this course last month on his first start for O’Brien.
After their recent Royal Ascot heroics, it would be another dream success for O’Brien and Shane Crosse but Tuesday can prove the Saturday show and cement her own special place in Irish Derby history.
The Group Two Gain Railway Stakes (3.05) also looks like a battle between the top two in the betting in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s Blackbeard and the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Crispy Cat, but better propositions lie elsewhere on a cracking card.
Duke De Sessa looked like the Derby was on his radar but tackles the Group Three ARM Holding International Stakes (4.20) instead and this should be far more to his liking having scored over a similar trip at this level when a juvenile.
Dermot Weld’s decision can pay dividends with Chris Hayes’ mount set to soar, while Straight Answer is the solution in the Listed Celebration Stakes (2.35). Ger Lyons’ three-year-old has always shown plenty of ability but the Kodiac colt just hasn’t lit it up yet this season.
His last start looked like a sign of things to come when second to stablemate Dr Zempf in a Leopardstown Group Three and this should be right down his alley under Keane.
The Listed Dash (1.25) kicks off affairs and Fozzy Stack’s Hermana Estrella can gain compensation having travelled far too freely in last month’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.
This should be much more to the liking of the Starspangledbanner filly and she can kick things off in style under a patient Spencer steer.