Big Weekend: Irish Derby Weekend at The Curragh

Friday, June 28, 2019
Big Weekend Derby Festival

Mad for KP win

All eyes are peeled on the Curragh of course and especially the feature event of the three-day Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival.


Racing is a hard game but it does throw up its fair share of fairytale stories. Should Kevin Prendergast finally win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, in the brand new Curragh, over the road from where he trains and six days shy of his 87th birthday, the place will go wild.


There is very little Prendergast hasn’t achieved, but it would mean a lot to add the most important race on the Irish flat calendar to his CV, especially as his father, Paddy ‘Darkie’ Prendergast won it four times.


Meadow Court’s success in 1965 made headlines around the world, as Bing Crosby was the owner. The Hollywood crooner was in attendance and serenaded the crowds that flocked around the parade ring with ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smilling’.


Madhmoon faces stiff opposition, not least from Anthony Van Dyck, who got the better of him in Epsom but the son of Dawn Approach has a huge chance, particularly when one recalls the stumble that cost him dearly across the water.


Curragh is renowned for its lack of hard-luck stories, especially over 12 furlongs. May the best horse win.



First for Hannon

One first that is guaranteed tomorrow is when Jerry Hannon begins to call the action as the stalls fly open at 5.20pm. The Listowel native, who spent many years combining commentary with taking photographs for Healy Racing, has enjoyed a number of ‘firsts’ since becoming principal racecourse commentator in Ireland last year.


The Irish St Leger was his first classic and now excitement is sure to be building as Hannon prepares for his maiden Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby commentary. With the race to be shown in more than 80 countries, Hannon will be informing a far greater audience than he would ever have imagined, when he made his debut with a microphone at Athea pony races 20 years ago.




Proper Charlie

It isn’t all about Group 1s and bluebloods at the Curragh this week, with plenty of competitive handicap fare, thanks to the significant prizemoney on offer.


Trainer Conor O’Dwyer made his name as a National Hunt jockey of renown, a multiple winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup just for starters. He has endured plenty of peaks and troughs throughout his second career but enjoyed more success since increasing his Flat string.


And while O’Dwyer might not have progeny by the elite stallions, his own offspring definitely fall into the blueblood category given his own profile.


Sixteen-year-old son Charlie has made the transition from pony racing to the track this year and rode his first winner at Fairyhouse on June 14, on board Roses Queen, trained by his father. That was a memorable day for the family but it will be trumped for sure if the potentially appropriately-named Trump Card prevails in the Dubai Duty Free Jumeirah Creekside Irish EBF Handicap at Headquarters tomorrow.

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