Irish Derby Day
One of the highlights of the season. This year's renewal of the big race lacks a standout contender. It does feature three horses who were separated by small margins in the Derby. Good cases can, and will, be made for all three.
We may get a drop of rain in the morning. It will have little impact on the ground. The official going will almost certainly be good to firm. Glorious sunshine will bathe the Curragh racegoers.
1.45 pm Dubai Duty Free Handicap
Buffer Zone looks interesting here. This four-year-old will be making just his eight career start. This will be his first start as a gelding, and probably more significantly for Ger Lyons. This is a valuable race for the grade. It would come as no surprise if Ger has laid out a well handicapped sort. His Windsor win last season worked out well. That was his seasonal bow, so he can go well fresh. He can give connections an immediate return on investment.
Selection: Buffer Zone 9/1
2.20pm Dubai Duty Free Dash Stakes
Speak In Colours shoulders a penalty here. That probably won't be enough to stop him. If he can repeat the form of his two starts this season, he should be winning. Chessman is having a solid campaign. He can chase the selection home.
Selection: Speak In Colours 2/1
2.55 pm Dubai Duty Free Celebration Stakes
Again the penalised runners are hard to get away from. Pincheck is a reliable sort at this level. He has a solid record fresh. His stable is in fine form too. Flight Risk is preferred though. He's been well placed to pick up a couple of stakes races this term. Granted they haven't been particularly strong races for the grade. Neither is this. He can complete the hat trick.
Selection: Flight Risk 7/4
3.30 pm Dubai Duty Free International Stakes
Addeybb leaps off the page here. He won a listed race at Royal Ascot. Listed in name only. It was a high class race. That was on his beloved soft ground though. Given likely quick conditions tomorrow, it would be no surprise if he's a non runner. If he shows up we can take him on at a short price. Georgeville is taken to deliver on his significant promise. Soft ground probably did for him on seasonal comeback at Naas. He's looked good in two wins since. The form of his Roscommon win has been boosted. Outside of the favourite, this doesn't look a strong race. For George, the third win on the bounce is eminently possible.
Selection: Georgeville 5/1
4.05 pm Dubai Duty Free Handicap
Jassaar is understandably all the rage here. His win on handicap debut, at this course last month, has worked out well. With the promise of improvement at this trip, he must go very close. The bookies haven't missed that fact. At a bigger price, King's Field gets the nod. A highly progressive horse last year, he has stumbled a bit in 2019.
His third in Naas over seven furlongs was promising though. That was an inadequate test. His Royal Ascot defeat on soft ground is readily excused. This horse is an impressive specimen. He's designed to carry big weights in handicaps. The handicapper has cut him a bit of slack. Hopefully the horse can take advantage of that largesse.
Selection: King's Field 14/1
4.40 pm Gain Railway Stakes
A small but select field line up for the Railway Stakes. This looks a cracking renewal. Siskin has cruised to a couple of victories this term. The regally bred Monarch Of Egypt looked a horse of huge potential at Naas. Not to mention Fort Myers, who ran a close fourth in the Coventry at Royal Ascot.
I will take them all on with Romero. This horse was expected to deliver on debut in Doncaster. He did so in some style. The snag is that the race lacked substance. Kevin Ryan has a couple of smart juveniles at home. The fact he thinks Romero is ready for a test like this speaks volumes. I will take the hint.
Selection: Romero 11/1
5.20 pm Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
An intriguing race. Anthony Van Dyck is a worthy favourite. He did win the Derby after all. I just can't shake the belief that Madhmoon was unlucky in that race. A stumble, and a perfectly understandable reaction from his jockey, lit him up at just the wrong time.
The move he made, albeit a premature one, was a sight to behold. If no misfortunes befall him tomorrow, jockey Chris Hayes will deliver him much later. His turn of foot can prove telling. Broome, like Anthony, is a tough nut. Both will provide stern opposition. It should be a keenly fought contest.
Selection: Madhmoon 5/2
6.0 pm Dubai Duty Free Handicap
Tirmizi arrives here in good form. The handicapper has elected not to put him up for his latest close second over course and distance. He should be bang there with a repeat performance.
Selection: Tirmizi 6/1
Watch live coverage of the Irish Derby Festival on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player on Friday, (3pm), and on RTÉ One and the RTÉ Player on Saturday (2.40pm)