Ryan Moore to try to fill Irish Derby void on Anthony Van Dyck

Aidan O’Brien out to secure his 13th win in Ireland’s premier classic

While Aidan O'Brien hopes to secure a 13th success in this Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, it is also a chance for Ballydoyle's number one rider Ryan Moore to break his duck in Ireland's premier classic.

Fresh from a 10th leading trainer award at Royal Ascot last week, O'Brien indicated on Sunday that Moore would ride the Epsom hero Anthony Van Dyck at the Curragh this weekend.

Moore got it wrong at Epsom when teaming up with Sir Dragonet, and it was Seamus Heffernan who landed the spoils in a blanket finish that saw only the runner-up Madhmoon prevent O’Brien saddling an unprecedented first five home.

The record breaking trainer is again set to be represented in strength in a classic he has dominated since first successful with Desert King in 1997.


“The intended ones are Broome [fourth at Epsom] and Anthony Van Dyck and a couple of others. Sovereign [10th at Epsom] could run and Norway [ninth in Wednesday’s Queen’s Vase at Ascot] could run.

“We probably won’t decide for definite until Tuesday. There will probably be a couple anyway with the other two. I would expect Ryan will ride Anthony Van Dyck,” O’Brien said on Sunday.

Prior to Epsom, Moore rode Anthony Van Dyck in the Lingfield Derby Trial. The Galileo colt is a general 6-4 favourite to become the 19th horse to complete the Epsom-Curragh Derby double. Broome and Madhmoon are 3-1 next best in other ante-post betting lists.


Moore has won every other Irish and English classic at least once in his career bar the Irish Derby. The 35-year-old Englishman came closest in 2016 when Idaho was runner-up to Harzand, while Moore has also finished third on Tartan Bearer in 2008, Wings Of Eagles in 2017 and last year on Saxon Warrior.

He has twice been successful in the Epsom Derby on Workforce (2010) and Ruler Of The World (2013.) A year later he landed the French Derby on The Great Gatsby.

Perhaps most famously of all Michael Kinane had 18 losing Irish Derby rides before eventually winning on Galileo in 2001.

In contrast, Donnacha O’Brien was successful on Latrobe for his brother Joseph a year ago, and having ridden Broome at Epsom looks in line to team up again with the colt this weekend.

The complexion of Saturday’s race is likely to become more clear after Tuesday’s forfeit stage, but it appears like Madhmoon is again likely to count as the most potent threat to Ballydoyle.

His trainer, Kevin Prendergast, is also pursuing a first Irish Derby to go with eight other Curragh classics picked up during a lengthy career. His father, Paddy, won the Derby four times, including in 1965 with Meadow Court who had been runner-up at Epsom.

Group One action

The three-day Curragh Derby festival starts on Thursday evening, while Friday’s card will see Group One action in the Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes.

Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation has indicated Wild Illusion will travel for the mile and a quarter heat, while on Sunday O’Brien confirmed his Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood is on target to run.

The Curragh’s chief executive, Derek McGrath, on Sunday described the ground at HQ as “heading towards good”. The upcoming weather is forecast to be mixed, with thundery outbursts predicted alongside warm weather.

Monday evening’s Ballinrobe flat programme sees the high-class chaser Peregine Run line up for the concluding maiden on the back of a hat-trick of recent wins over fences.

Jessica Harrington’s string are in sparkling form, and Xcite looks to hold a leading chance in a five-runner maiden at the Co Mayo track. The filly ran into a very promising sort in Search For A Song at Fairyhouse, and the form of her previous Gowran effort looks good enough for this task.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column