Highland Reel – 6.30 Curragh
Saturday’s 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby looks a virtual match between Epsom Derby runner-up Jack Hobbs – a best price 10-11 with Paddy Power – and the four representatives from the Ballydoyle stable of Aidan O’Brien who will be attempting to win the mile and a half Classic for an unprecedented twelfth time – with only Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather in 2013 preventing the trainer from landing the last nine renewals.
While Epsom sixth Kilimanjaro looks out of his depth in this company it would be no surprise to see Oaks winner Qualify or Giovanni Canaletto – who can narrow the gap of six and a half lengths that seperated the Galileo colt from Jack Hobbs at Epsom – give the odds-on favourite plenty to think about, but it is that man Ryan Moore and Highland Reel who is taken to prevent John Gosden’s runner from becoming the first British-trained winner of the race since Balanchine in 1994.
After winning his maiden at Gowran Park by twelve lengths as a juvenile, Highland Reel went to Goodwood for the Group 2 Vintage Stakes and ran out a most impressive winner, his final start before being put away for the winter.
Reappearing in Longchamp’s Poule D’Essai Des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) on May 10th, the 11-8 favourite could never get in a blow at all-the-way winner Make Believe but, with that run under his belt, Highland Reel found only New Bay too good in the Prix Du Jockey Club (French Derby) later that month.
As with many O’Brien three-year-olds, it is unlikely we have yet seen the best of the lightly-raced son of Galileo and with the extra furlong and a half another positive the 9-2 at Betfred looks worth taking, in the process providing the Irish maestro with yet another winner of the Curragh Classic.
The other British challenger Storm The Stars looks more of a St Leger type while Radanpour, despite being unbeaten in three starts, is taking a huge step up in class and is likely to be found wanting along with 150-1 outsider Carbon Dating.
1 Point Win Highland Reel 9-2 Betfred