Monday 27 January 2020

Pat Smullen excited to take up Irish Derby challenge with Cracksman

Pat Smullen is relishing the opportunity to partner Cracksman in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday.

The Frankel colt was favourite to provide the combination of trainer John Gosden and owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer with a second victory in the Epsom Derby earlier in the month, following the 2015 triumph of Golden Horn, but had to make do with a close-up third behind Aidan O'Brien's 40-1 shot Wings Of Eagles.

The pair are set for a rematch this weekend and with Crackman's intended jockey Frankie Dettori sidelined by injury until at least the July Meeting at Newmarket, dual Irish Derby-winning jockey Pat Smullen comes in for the plum ride.

"It's a brilliant ride to pick up and I'm really looking forward to Saturday," Smullen told Press Association Sport.

"He ran a great race at Epsom. At the end of the day Wings Of Eagles is the Epsom Derby winner and you can't take that away from him, but this is a different track on a different day and I'll be going into the race very positive.

"The Irish Derby is a huge race. I've been lucky enough to win it twice and I'd love to win for a third time on Saturday."

Smullen has previously won the race aboard Grey Swallow in 2004 and Harzand 12 months ago.

Oppenheimer is delighted to have secured the services of the experienced rider.

He said: "I think it's a very good choice and I'm very happy to have him.

"It's such a pity for Frankie. He's had to miss Royal Ascot and now this, but you can't take any chances. I think he's being sensible.

"I went to see the horse in Newmarket on Monday and he looked fine.

"John Gosden's horses ran very well at Ascot last week and one would assume he'll run very well on Saturday.

"He has a big stride this horse, a bit like Frankel, and I think a track like the Curragh will suit him better than Epsom."

Cracksman and Wings Of Eagles are among 12 colts still in contention following the confirmation stage.

Wings Of Eagles is one of eight possible runners for O'Brien along with Capri, Douglas Macarthur, Finn McCool, Spanish Steps, Taj Mahal, The Anvil and Venice Beach.

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.

"It doesn't seem that any horse is able to be the best by 3lb or 4lb, they all seem to be very much together, so that is why I am taking my chance. I think it is a good opportunity for him," Fabre said.

Ladbrokes make Wings Of Eagles the marginal favourite at 2-1, with Cracksman second-best at 9-4.

The same firm quote O'Brien at just 4-6 to train the winner and it is 10-1 he saddles the first three home.

Ladbrokes representative Nicola McGeady said: "Cracksman and Waldgeist are Aidan O'Brien's two biggest threats in Saturday's Irish Derby, but with eight of the 12 runners, he is odds on to win the race for a 12th time."

Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, Ladbrokes bet: 2-1 Wings Of Eagles, 9-4 Cracksman, 7-2 Waldgeist, 10-1 Capri, 12-1 Douglas Macarthur, 16-1 Venice Beach, 20-1 Grandee, 25-1 Taj Mahal, 40-1 Spanish Steps, 40-1 Dubai Sand, 50-1 The Anvil, 66-1 Finn McCool.

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