Irish Derby needs to be more competitive – HRI

Changes to racing programme needed to give €1.25M Curragh classic further prestige

Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh. Photograph: Inpho.

Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh. Photograph: Inpho.


Next year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will again be run on the last weekend of June but Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) confirmed yesterday it has called for an examination of the overall three-year-old middle-distance programme for 2016 throughout Europe.

On the back of Australia’s 1-8 success in last month’s €1.25 million Curragh classic, HRI’s chief executive, Brian Kavanagh, acknowledged that changes are required to bolster the prestige of a race which has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien’s stable in recent years.

Stressed the problem

Kavanagh has stressed the problem is not with O’Brien but with the need to take steps to make the Irish Derby more competitive, and mooted the possibility of moving Ireland’s premier classic back a week in order to attract more Royal Ascot runners.

He also questioned the success of reducing the French Derby trip from a mile and a half.

“Any changes require approval from the European Pattern Committee, but it has to be recognised that the Derby is a country’s flagship race,” Kavanagh said last month and he confirmed yesterday: “Ireland has asked the European Pattern Race Committee to undertake a thorough review of the entire European middle distance three-year-old programme to determine whether beneficial changes can be effected for the future.”

He was commenting at the release of Ireland’s 2015 fixture list which sees an unchanged total of 349 fixtures from this year’s schedule.

Leopardstown’s two-day January meeting has been split up so that the Boylesports Handicap Hurdle is run on Sunday, January 18th, and the BHP Champion Hurdle is run the following Sunday. Next year’s turf campaign on the flat will begin slightly later on March 29th and wind up with a two-day fixture at Leopardstown (October 24th-25th).

Fairyhouse’s Easter festival reverts to three days (April 5th-7th) with the holiday period well positioned three weeks after Cheltenham and three weeks before the Punchestown festival (April 28th-May 2nd)

Winning vein

Meanwhile, Colm O’Donoghue enjoyed one of the best days of his career last weekend when Bracelet landed the Irish Oaks and the in-form jockey can continue in a similar winning vein aboard Yulong Baoju in Wednesday’s Listed feature at Naas.

Eddie Lynam also runs Gathering Power, whose best form to date has come on a softer surface than she’s likely to get here. Yulong Baoju has something to find on figures but is a course and distance winner on fast going. The Group Three winner Tobann tops the weights while Minalisa is a cross-channel raider.

Simply A Star, can secure a win in the opening maiden while Tahaany is bred to relish quicker ground than she ran behind her two high-class stable companions, Tarfasha and Flying Jib, earlier this season.

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