Irish Derby Preview: Lump on Sugar at 9/1

Aidan O’Brien’s Epsom Derby winner, Ruler Of The World, returns to the Curragh in a bid to add the Irish Derby to his conquests (6.30pm, Saturday, June 29).  He deserves to be the clear favourite in the field of nine but at a best price of 11/10 with Paddy Power, William Hill or SkyBet, he is not generously priced and we will unearth better value elsewhere.

Blinkers are being used for the first time on John Patrick Shanahan’s Ralston Road, the 100/1 outsider of the field. They will need to work miracles to get this son of Dylan Thomas into a place. He has only encountered Group company once, in the Queen’s Vase (Group 3) at Royal Ascot. He was outpaced at times and could only finished midfield. We would usually expect him to race prominently but, rated nearly two stone below the best of the field, jockey Tadhg O’Shea may well have to get off and push to keep him up with them.

William Buick: Reunited with Epsom Derby runner-up Libertarian

William Buick may have similar problems on Elaine Burke’s Libertarian. He may be the second favourite at a top price of 7/2 with Bet365, Betfred or Ladbrokes but stamina rather than tactical speed is his forte.  It was his staying power that enabled him to take second, one and half lengths behind Ruler of The World in the Epsom Derby.  He just got his head in front of David Wachman’s Galileo Rock in the very last stride.

Karl Burke thought he would have won the Derby if there had been a stronger pace.  We will never know whether or not that is true but his performance was sufficiently impressive for Godolphin to buy him. I’m sure his former owner, Hubert Strecker, has made a considerable profit on this tall son of New Approach who was bought for just 40,000 guineas a year ago. Unfortunately this will be his final race for the Burkes and, looking beyond this race, a move to Saeed bin Suroor would hardly be a positive. Libertarian looks very likely to be placed on Saturday but is unattractive at 7/2.

Godolphin also send out Cap O’Rushes 66/1, another son of New Approach, trained by Saeed bin Suroor. He was last seen getting fourth in the King George Stakes at Royal Ascot. The handicapper rates him just two pounds higher than Ralston Road. He looks likely be used as a pacemaker for his soon to be stablemate.

John Oxx’s Little White Cloud is worth considering each-way at 40/1 with Coral or William Hill and I expect that price to shrink. He has only had four starts and could be on the progressive list. He came second by just over two lengths to Aidan O’Brien’s Leading Light in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes over ten furlongs at the Curragh on May 26.

In both his starts this season he has finished his race in a manner that suggests he would benefit from further. He is bred to get the distance as a son of Dalakhani out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. John Oxx last won the Irish Derby ten years ago. Another victory here seems unlikely but he might just pick up some place money.

The same cannot be said for the Ballydoyle second string, Festive Cheer (best 25/1 with Stan James).  His season as a three-year-old has been a disappointment for the stable so far. On his seasonal debut he was a beaten favourite in a Group 3 at Longchamp in May. He came third in a blanket finish.  He was next seen in the Epsom Derby where he finished with only two horses behind him. Extraordinary progress would need to have been made in the past few weeks for him to feature here.

David Wachman’s Galileo Rock (8/1 Ladbrokes, Bet365, BetVictor) had a more promising run in the Epsom Derby, finishing a short head behind Libertarian in third. He did not help his chances by testing the arm strength of jockey Wayne Lordan at times.  Keeping close company with the unruly Dawn Approach probably did not help him.

If the Irish Derby is a more smoothly run affair, it would not be a surprise to see Galileo Rock improve on that result. He was raised nine pounds in the handicapper’s estimation to a rating of 117 after the Derby and this will be just his fifth appearance on a racecourse. He has to be one for the shortlist.

Another interesting contender is Trading Leather (11/2 BetVictor). This son of Teofilo bred and trained by Jim Bolger and owned by his wife, is another improving horse. On his seasonal debut he finished a length and a quarter behind Libertarian in the Dante. He then came third by five lengths in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, unable to match the tactical speed of O’Brien’s Magician and Gale Force Ten at the business end of the race.

Most recently he succeeded in impressive style over a mile and two furlongs in a listed race at the Curragh on June 9. He beat O’Brien’s Lines Of Battle by three and a half lengths. Regular jockey Kevin Manning will be hoping for a smoother ride than the one he received from Dawn Approach at Epsom.

The obvious talents of Sugar Boy (9/1 Coral, SkyBet, Stan James), winner of the Group 3 Bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown on 26 April, have attracted considerable interest. This son of Authorized bred and owned, until recently, by Richard Barnes has been sold to the Arabs. He will move from Patrick Prendergast’s yard after this race.

Sugar Boy has not run since that victory at Sandown where he beat both Galileo Rock and Libertarian. Libertarian got carried very wide in running but the form of this generally dismissed classic trial now looks to be significant.  In his debut as a three-year-old, Sugar Boy came second to O’Brien’s Battle Of Marengo in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.

This will be his first encounter of Group 1 company but this colt is definitely progressive. He improved throughout his two-year-old season and showed both solid ability and a great attitude. Connections are confident that a sounder surface than he has experienced before will not diminish his chances.

Irish Derby Betting Tips Conclusion

No one will be surprised if unbeaten Ruler Of The World adds a fourth victory to his CV but his price of 11/10 suggests that it is almost a foregone conclusion. It isn’t. Neither Galileo Rock nor Trading Leather has much improvement to find to get the better of him. Looking at the prices on offer, the best value bet in the Irish Derby looks to be an each way punt on Prendergast’s SUGAR BOY so grab the best price of 9/1 with Coral, SkyBet or Stan James.