This year’s Irish Derby takes place at 5.20 on Saturday 1 July, but it’s a race that can be traced all the way back to 1817 to a race then known as the O’Darby Stakes. It became the Irish Derby in 1866, when it originally run over 14-furlongs, before the distance of the race was set at 12-furlongs in 1872.
Nowadays, it is part of an International Racing Calendar, often attracting runners from England and France, with many English and French Derby winners looking to add another Derby to their CV. However, the English and Irish Derby double was first achieved in 1907 by a horse called Orby, which was a magnificent feat considering the double wasn’t repeated until Santa Claus achieved it in 1964. Since then, a further 16 horses have completed the double, including the 2016 winner Harzand.
Aidan O’Brien is the winning most trainer, having trained 11 of the 20 Irish Derby winners since 1997. He has completed the English and Irish Derby double on four occasions: Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012) and Australia (2014).
Of course, after training Wings Of Eagles to win this year’s Irish Derby, O’Brien has a chance to make it 5 doubles – so we thought it was time to take a look at that horse’s chances, and those of his most likely opposition.
Wings Of Eagles
The fact he was sent-off at odds of 40/1 for the Derby was no great surprise after just a maiden win as a two-year-old, a season which culminated in him finishing only ninth in the Group 1 Criterium in France. He was also sent off 8/1 in a below-average Chester Vase, but still only finished second behind stablemate Venice Beach. However, the way he ran on suggested that he would relish the step up to 12-furlongs, and the rest is history.
A highly-regarded son of Frankel, the fact he races in the same colours as 2015 Derby winner Golden Horn probably catches the eye as much as his form. He still has plenty of room for improvement after just three runs but, having already proven himself at Epsom before the Derby, he seemed to enjoy a much clearer run there than Wings Of Eagles, who was powering away from him at the end.
Andre Fabre has already won the Irish Derby twice with Winged Love and Hurricane Run, and Waldgeist could easily give him a third after finishing runner-up in the French Derby. Checked in his run at a crucial time, he finished just a neck second to Brametot, and the French Classic form has already received a boost with the French 1,000 Guineas runner-up winning the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Finished in front of Wings Of Eagles in the Chester Vase, where he was the choice of Ryan Moore. He was then sent off at 12/1 for The Derby, though Moore was on Cliffs Of Moher. With the latter an unlikely runner here, this one would only be of interest if Ryan Moore jumped aboard.
Finished seventh in the Derby, where he was headed at the furlong post after making most of the running. May be in line for pace-making duties, but could grab a place if the front-3 in the market don’t fire.
The strength of the form of the English Derby was given a couple of boosts at Royal Ascot, where both the fifth Benbatl and Permian won, and Wings of Eagles is again fancied to outstay Cracksman. However, Andre Fabre doesn’t send his horses to Ireland if he doesn’t think they’ve got a serious chance, and Waldgeist is expected to show that the French Colts are superior this year.
Waldgeist @ 4/1 with BetVictor (Bet £10, Get £40)