Punters at the Curragh will be restricted to Tote betting this weekend

Failure to agree on an amendment of pitch rules means there will be no bookmakers at the track

There may be 1,000 spectators allowed at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday but they won’t have any bookmakers to bet with.

A total of seven on-course bookmakers had been permitted to work at the meeting which is part of the Government’s series of pilot sporting events to test easing of pandemic restrictions.

However, there appears to have been failure to agree on an amendment of pitch rules that would allow seven bookmakers operate at the Curragh.

Tote facilities will be available for patrons at the track on Saturday.


"I'm very disappointed. We exhausted every avenue to try and get bookmakers in. It wasn't for lack of effort," said the Irish National Bookmakers Association chairman Ray Mulvaney on Friday.

“We ran out of timescale but I want to wish all stakeholders the best and I hope bookmakers can take their place at the track as soon as possible.,” he added.

Separately, jockey Gavin Ryan will hope Irish Derby weekend at the Curragh proves another major step in his burgeoning career.

The reigning champion apprentice teams up with Fernando Vichi in Saturday’s €1 million Classic but also has a chance to break his Group One duck in the following day’s Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes.

Ryan teams up with last year’s Moyglare winner Shale in the €250,000 feature and circumstances could finally be right for the filly to regain winning form.

Having needed her seasonal debut at Leopardstown, Shale looked set to get her favoured quick ground at Ascot last week, only for a deluge to turn the going heavy for the Coronation Stakes.

Despite being well supported in the market all the evidence of Shale’s juvenile career that she prefers a sound surface was borne out as she beat only one home.

Although watering may not be required at the Curragh, the likelihood is still for decent ground of the sort on which she won the Moyglare against star names such as old rival Pretty Gorgeous, Mother Earth and Snowfall.

The latter Ballydoyle pair have subsequently won Classics, although it is their stable companion Santa Barbara who has been the ‘talking horse’ this year.

Relying on that home reputation proved an expensive exercise in both the Guineas and the Oaks and now Santa Barbara is tried at the Pretty Polly’s intermediate distance.

She is one of a trio of three-year-olds against a handful of older rivals and this represents her best chance yet to start living up to the hype.

Cayenne Pepper brings a rating standard of 114 to the race although siding with the single proven Group One winner in this Group One contest could pay off.

Just a handful of fillies line up in a disappointing turn out for the Group Two Airlie Stud Stakes which looks a good opportunity for last week’s Queen Mary third Cheerupsleepyjean.

Sunday’s other Group Two, the Comer Group Curragh Cup, looks underwhelming too, even with the race sponsor pitching in three of his own horses.

Amhran Na Bhfiann cut out the running in last week’s Gold Cup only to drop away tamely so the best shot Aidan O’Brien looks to have is with the filly Passion.