Dettori set to partner Knight To Behold in Irish Derby

Italian superstar has won nine Irish classics during his outstanding career

Frankie Dettori: legendary Italian always proves a hugely popular visitor to the Curragh. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Frankie Dettori: legendary Italian always proves a hugely popular visitor to the Curragh. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

English trainer Harry Dunlop is hopeful Frankie Dettori will ride Knight To Behold in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Dunlop’s unlikely to be alone in such hopes as Dettori is always a hugely popular visitor to the Curragh where the Italian superstar has won nine Irish classics during his illustrious career.

The 1,000 Guineas remains elusive for the 47-year-old veteran but he can already boast a Derby success although it did come 24 years ago on the Godolphin filly Balanchine.

Injury ruled Dettori out of riding Cracksman in last year’s Derby when that colt finished runner-up to Capri. However he returned to action a fortnight later to secure a fourth Irish Oaks on Enable.

Richard Kingsctoe rode Knight To Behold to win the Lingfield Derby Trial last month but the horse subsequently disappointed at Epsom behind Masaar.

“They went very quick early on at Epsom with the Ballydoyle pacemakers and we got rather involved in that. Things just didn’t go quite to plan on a very stiff track,” Dunlop said on Tuesday.

Richard Kingscote got off him and said Epsom didn’t really suit and the Curragh should be much more his scene and much more of a galloping track,” he added.

Kingscote is likely to have to step aside this weekend as Dunlop reported: “We think Frankie Dettori will ride. It’s not completely confirmed but that’s hopefully the plan.”

The question of where – or if – Kildare will play Mayo in their All-Ireland football qualifier on Saturday is unlikely to affect the Derby attendance given the 6,000 on-site crowd capacity restriction in place at the Curragh during its €72 million redevelopment.

Just 5,412 people were on-site at last year’s Derby.

Dettori’s presence will still be a considerable draw however and Knight To Behold’s Lingfield form was boosted by Kew Gardens at Royal Ascot last week. The English raider is a general 14-1 shot in ante-post betting.

More conservatively

“We might ride him a bit differently. The main thing is to try and get him to relax and get home which we felt wasn’t the case last time. He was doing a bit too much early on at Epsom and we will try and ride him a bit more conservatively,” said Dunlop.

Dettori is set to be in Group One action at the Curragh on Sunday too with Coronet likely to try and break her top-flight duck in the €250,000 Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes.

John Gosden’s filly is one of a dozen entries left in the mile and a quarter contest. Aidan O’Brien has seven options including the Oaks heroine Forever Together and the top-class older pair, Rhododendron and Hydrangea.

Athena is another Ballydoyle filly with a Pretty Polly entry but she’s declared to line up in Wednesday evening’s Listed Oaks Trial at Naas.

The daughter of Camelot is no stranger to hard work as she ran last Thursday in the Ribblesadle at Royal Ascot when eventually fourth to her stable-mate, Magic Wand.

O’Brien’s hope ran very keen over that mile and a half so the two furlong drop at Naas could suit.

Group One-winning trainer, and former Kildare footballer, Willie McCreery, will hope Mary Tudor can earn her Irish Oaks ticket despite having to carry a 3lb penalty for her Salsabil Stakes win in the Spring.

“Truth be known her Listed win hasn’t really worked out but she’s a big filly and is still growing – she’ll be a nice four year old,” said McCreery.

“The penalty will make it tougher but that’s the price you pay; I haven’t had a good look through the race because I might get sick if I did!” he added.

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