The Irish Derby is the third Classic of the flat racing season in Ireland, and usually takes place on the final weekend of June at the Curragh. This ordinarily makes it a target for horses who have run at the Epsom Derby at the beginning of the month though in 2020 that race was run in July.
The Derby is the oldest of Ireland’s Classics and was first run in 1866, though other incarnations of the contest did take place earlier than this. Standout former champions include Triple Crown winner Nijinsky, Shergar, Sinndar and Galileo.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 27th June 2020
- Winner: Santiago
- SP: 2/1
- Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
- Jockey: Seamie Heffernan
1m4f is the trip for this Group 1 Classic contest which offers huge guaranteed prize money of €750,000. The ground at the track is currently described as good, but the forecast headed into the weekend is a little mixed with rain likely on Friday night and much of Saturday.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good||1m4f||Group 1||£750,000||15 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Irish Derby Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
We have the unusual scenario of the Irish Derby taking place before the Epsom version of the race this season; and with the English showpiece taking place hot on the heels of this event, it seems unlikely we will see many runners taking part in both races, as has regularly occurred in the past. That doesn’t seem to have detracted too much from this field though, and we look to have a high-quality renewal in store.
This is yet another Classic contest which Aidan O’Brien has made his own in recent years. Successful six times in the past decade, O’Brien is now out on his own at the top of the trainers’ table, with 13 victories in total. The master of Ballydoyle would look to have a strong chance of making it 14 in 2020, with six of the final 15-runner field hailing from his yard.
O’Brien caused a major shock when saddling Sovereign to win at 33/1 12 months ago, and overall this hasn’t been a particularly profitable race for favourite backers in the past 10 years. Four wins for the jolly over this period is a respectable enough strike rate, but with all four of those winners returning an odds-on SP, supporters of the market leader have registered a level stakes loss of a fraction over four units. We don’t have such a strong favourite in what looks an open renewal but where does the value lie?
|Santiago||3/1||111||Aidan O'Brien||Seamie Heffernan|
|Arthur’s Kingdom||9/2||107||Aidan O'Brien||Wayne Lordan|
|Crossfirehurricane||11/2||106||Joseph Patrick O'Brien||Shane Crosse|
Santiago – 3/1
It is one of the Aidan O’Brien sextet who currently heads the betting for this year’s contest, with the Authorized colt, Santiago, topping the market. With three-time winner of the race Seamie Heffernan taking the ride, he looks the stable number one, and is clearly fancied to go well.
This strong galloper showed definite signs of promise during his juvenile campaign - notably when chasing home Jessica Harrington’s Coronation Stakes winner, Alpine Star, over 1m at Galway. That promise was then built upon in his seasonal return to the track in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot.
Showing the benefit for the step up to 1m6f that day, Santiago wore down his rivals in the straight to ultimately be well on top at the line. That dour staying performance was undoubtedly a good trial for the St. Leger, but there is a slight question mark as to whether this slight drop back in distance will suit.
Arthur’s Kingdom – 9/2
Next in line comes another of the Aidan O’Brien squadron, Arthur’s Kingdom. This one also goes in the famous Michael Tabor colours and will have the assistance of Wayne Lordan in the saddle. Sired by Camelot, who took this race in 2012, he looks a very strong second string for the dominant yard in Irish racing.
This one does seem to have developed a touch of “seconditis” in his fledgling career, filling that spot in four of his five career starts, his only win to date came when breaking his duck in a 1m heavy ground maiden at Gowran Park.
In common with Santiago, Arthur’s Kingdom made his seasonal return at the Royal meeting when lining up for the King Edward VII Stakes. Frankie Dettori took the ride that day and, whilst he did get the better of his hotly fancied stablemate Mogul, he was no match for the Willliam Muir-trained Pyledriver in the closing stages. That still rates a solid comeback effort though, and any improvement will likely see him firmly in the mix.
Crossfirehurricane – 11/2
It could well be a family affair this year and if Aidan O’Brien doesn’t train this year’s Irish Derby winner, then there is a fair chance that one of his sons will. Siblings, Joseph and Donnacha, have three entries between them – the pick of which would look to be Joseph’s Crossfirehurricane.
A perfect four from four in his career to date, this son of Kitten’s Joy looks to be a rapidly improving colt, having taken successive rises in class in his stride. Posting a battling success over a mile in a Listed event on the all-weather at Dundalk two starts back, he then improved on that to claim the Group 3 Gallinule Stake at this track last time out.
Travelling ominously well in behind the leaders that day, he showed an excellent turn of foot to put the race to bed close home, with the step up to 1m2f proving to be no issue. He is up still further in distance here, which is the big question mark, but has done nothing wrong to date and deserves his chance. Going for a sire who has already landed one Classic this season, with Kameko in the 2000 Guineas, he looks set to run a big race.
Irish Derby Winners
|2020||Santiago||2/1||Aidan O'Brien||Seamie Heffernan|
|2019||Sovereign||33/1||Aidan O’Brien||Padraig Beggy|
|2018||Latrobe||14/1||Joseph O’Brien||Donnacha O’Brien|
|2017||Capri||6/1||Aidan O’Brien||Seamie Heffernan|
|2016||Harzand||4/6||Dermot Weld||Pat Smulen|
|2015||Jack Hobbs||10/11||John Gosden||William Buick|
|2014||Australia||1/8||Aidan O’Brien||Joseph O’Brien|
|2013||Trading Leather||6/1||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2012||Camelot||1/5||Aidan O'Brien||Joseph O'Brien|
|2011||Treasure Beach||7/2||Aidan O'Brien||Colm O'Donoghue|
About the Irish Derby
Three weeks after the Epsom Derby during most years, Ireland hosts its very own equivalent of the famous race. A huge occasion in its own right, the Irish Derby is one of the biggest races on the Irish racing calendar, flaunting a purse that hit the €1.5m mark in 2016, though in 2020 this was be halved to €750k. The action takes place at the Curragh over a distance of a mile and a half with only three-year-olds eligible to compete. Geldings are excluded from taking part and although fillies are not, it is rare to see them involved.
Standing as one of the Irish Classics, it will come as little surprise that the Irish Derby is a race with a long history. It has roots dating back to 1824 although the modern version of the race, as we know it today, didn’t begin until 1866. The masterminds behind the event were the 3rd Earl of Howth, the 3rd Marquess of Drogheda and the 3rd Earl of Charlemont. Initially they designed the race to be run over a mile and six furlongs but it was reduced to its present distance in 1872.
Today the Irish Derby is widely known for its giant prize fund but this has not always been the case. It was only in 1962 when its value rapidly increased after it paired up with the popular Irish Hospital’s Sweepstake. The move, made by founder of the sweepstake, Joe McGrath, put the one-and-a-half mile contest firmly on the map and it’s not looked back since.
DOUBLE DERBY SUCCESS
Since its rise to fame in the 1960s, an increasing amount of Epsom Derby winners have travelled across the Irish Sea to try their luck in this race. Winning both races is hardly a rare sight either with eighteen horses having successfully pulled off the English-Irish Derby double.
Given the relationship between the two events, the result at Epsom is one you simply must take into account before placing your bets on this race which usually runs three weeks later, though 2020’s edition actually took place one week before the Epsom equivalent. As the chart below shows, when champions of the English derby come to the Curragh, they tend to perform quite well.
Entries Aidan O’Brien has for the Irish Derby are ones you will want to take a very close look at. The Ballydoyle trainer has developed a real knack for producing winners of this race. He first tasted success in 1997 and since then has secured a record breaking 14 victories, a record no other trainer comes close to. Seven of the wins came back to back during an incredible period of dominance (2006-2012) from the Irishman. His son, Joseph, could well follow in his footsteps after beating his dad to the 2018 title but he has a very long way to go yet.
While it is important not to downplay O’Brien’s achievement tin this race, some context is required. The Irishman regularly throws several names into the hat for each renewal of the Irish Derby, rather than having hopes lie on the shoulders of just one runner. By sometimes being responsible for more than half the field, he is bound to have a decent success rate. If you cast your gaze below, you can see just how much of a presence he’s had in this race over the years.
A CURIOUS CASE OF TWOS
A lot of interesting trivia surrounding this race has one thing in common, doubles. In 1924 and 1934 we had double Irish Derby champions following two dead heats. In 1880, owner William Brophy won this race and the Irish Grand National in what is a unique double to pull off. What’s even more fascinating is that both of his winning horses were out of the same dam, Winged Bee. More recently we witnessed another historic achievement as Aidan O’Brien and son Joseph became the first father and son duo to win this race as trainer and jockey, doing so with the outstanding Camelot.