13:25 Curragh

Leg 1 Selections: POWER UNDER ME, MEASURE OF MAGIC

The Dubai Duty Free Celebration Stakes is a good-quality sprint contest to kick the card off on Irish Derby day at the Curragh. Ger Lyons’ Pirate Jenny is a progressive filly, and only just failed to catch her stablemate Geocentric when she attempted to complete her hat-trick in a Listed event at Cork. However, it’s interesting to see stable jockey Colin Keane overlook her again here in favour of POWER UNDER ME, who’s rated eleven-pounds superior for the former, and brings the stronger form of the pair into this race. 

This smart gelding was below his best when sixth in the Group Two Greenlands Stakes last month but he bolted up over course-and-distance in a Listed event back in October and even beat the 112-rated Mooneista on his reappearance at Cork too. On a line through the runner-up, he holds most of these and has other good pieces of form, which include three placed efforts in Group Two/Three events, so he’s evidently going to find this easier. With an unbeaten record in Listed company reading two wins from two starts, he looks a serious player. 

As a second option, for the opening leg, Johnny Murtagh’s MEASURE OF MAGIC has the tools to get involved if the return to this longer trip can get her back on track. When on-song, this filly is very good on her day, and she proved that when an excellent third in last year’s Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. That is the best form on offer and the fact that connections have skipped that race in favour of this easier task should be noted. She doesn’t have a lot to find with Power Under Me on collateral form either, so the price differential between the pair is misleading and she therefore has to go on the ticket. 

14:00 Curragh

Leg 2 Selections: SURROUNDING, DEXTER BELLE 

In leg two, which is the Dubai Duty Free Summer Fillies Handicap, I have this between SURROUNDING and DEXTER BELLE. The former, is a really tough and consistent mare, and often saves her best for this course, in which her form here reads a win, three seconds and a third from just six starts. She ran well on seasonal debut to finish fourth off a huge weight, beaten just over two lengths, and that should have put her spot on for this task. She’s nearly in the twilight stage of her career but she hardly ever runs a bad race and is attractively handicapped off a mark of 95 here, so she remains one to be positive about, who should give another solid account of herself. She’s the first choice of two suggestions.

The latter, on the other hand, looks well-treated off a mark of 97 for Eddie Lynam. This filly showed useful form when trained by Kevin Ryan and ran well to finish third in a Listed event last May behind Winter Power. She was majorly disappointing on her final start for her old boss but she shaped well on debut for her new handler over a shorter trip here last time, keeping on strongly to take sixth in a seventeen runner handicap on her handicap debut. She remains lightly-raced for her age, so there’s definite improvement to come, and the step up in trip looks a good move. Furthermore, she’s drawn well in stall seven and should strip fitter for that latest run, which was on seasonal/stable debut after ten months off, so she has to enter the reckoning here. 

14:35 Curragh

Leg 3 Selections: EMPHATIC ANSWER, PETREVILLE

The Joseph O’Brien-trained EMPHATIC ANSWER has a major chance of collecting this prize on the back of a career-best performance when second to Pearls Galore in a Group Two over course-and-distance. Since winning both her starts in handicaps, she’s got better and better with nearly each start and stepped up from her first two starts of the year to get within a neck of Pearls Galore here last time. She seemed to derive for the switch to positive tactics that day and, if able to reproduce that form here, she has every chance of going one place better.

I am also going to nominate the really likeable PETREVILLE, who despite carrying a penalty, has the class to play a leading role in the outcome. The seven-year-old, who was a seven times winner in France, has finally settled in nicely at this yard, having won at Dundalk before a good second in Qatar in February. He’s yet to run at this course but should be ready for the task ahead and was a fine second to Pearls Galore over a mile for the first time in Ireland before making all over the same track and trip to win a Group Three easily. He was last seen running well over an inadequate trip of seven furlongs behind Dr Zempf, in which he was giving the winner nearly a stone. This race is no easier, but the return to this trip will suit and he looks hard to leave out of the placepot. 

15:05 Curragh

Leg 4 Selections: CRISPY CAT

Blackbeard ran a very good race to finish fourth in the Coventry at Royal Ascot despite losing his unbeaten record in the process and is one for the shortlist but CRISPY CAT was seriously unlucky not to collect the Norfolk Stakes. He was badly impeded by The Ridler when just about to come through with a winning challenge, which forced his rider to regather his momentum before flying home to be third, nearly grabbing second too. 

He was a short-head second to Blackbeard over five here on his second start when caught right on the line but it seemed like he massively improved for hold-up tactics last time and the way he hit the line strongly, recording a good sectional in the latter stages, suggests this extra furlong should suit. That gives him hope of reversing the form with Blackbeard here and while this is a quick turnaround, his owners took this twelve months ago with Go Bears Go and there’s no reason why this talented sprinter can’t do the same. 

15:45 Curragh

Leg 5 Selections: WESTOVER

The Irish Derby will see Ralph Beckett’s WESTOVER bid to put matters right having been unlucky not to finish at least a clear second in the English version when last spotted. He hasn’t looked the easiest of rides and I don’t think he would have beaten Desert Crown last time, but he did ever so well to finish where he did considering he was stopped in his tracks when looking dangerous. With a clear passage, there’s no doubt he would have finished a good second and this course should actually play more to his strengths than Epsom. 

It’s rather disappointing for Rob Hornby not to be in the saddle on this occasion but connections have booked champion jockey Colin Keane to do the steering and he looks a great choice, who’s enjoyed plenty of success at this course. This son of Frankel has now proved his stamina over this trip and redemption could be on the cards for the highest rated runner in the field. Tuesday outgunned Emily Upjohn in the Oaks and is her trainer's only runner in the race, who seeks to win this for a monumental fifteenth time. There should be more to come from her but it’s the former who gets the vote, with Lionel and French Claim also worth a mention at large odds.  

16:20 Curragh

Leg 6 Selections: AIKHAL, VERA MAGNIFICO

The ARM Holding International Stakes, leg six, looks anybody’s for the taking but I want to side with Aidan O’Brien’s AIKHAL. He finished last of 11 runners to Coroebus in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot but, surprisingly enough, I feel as though connections were using that as a prep-run for this very race. He was a good fourth in a Group One in France last year and also ran well to fill the same spot behind Coroebus in a Group Three at Newmarket. His trainer is convinced he’ll be seen to better effect over this longer trip and, with Ryan Moore in the saddle again, he should be ready to run a big race now. 

Whilst he has a lot to find with the main principles, based on official ratings, VERA MAGNIFICO is not one to underestimate. He got off the mark in good style over this trip last time and his trainer Joseph O’Brien skipped two races at Royal Ascot in favour of this contest which is interesting to say the least. It’s even more appealing to note that connections are willing to blow a potential lenient handicap mark to tackle this competitive Group Three contest. This is a big step up in grade from last time no doubt but he’s worth a shot at this level and could make an impact.