Big Weekend: Racing from Down Royal and Tipperary

Friday, June 21, 2019
Big Weekend 21st June

The Royal Derby

It is Derby season in the racing world and most eyes are on the Curragh Racecourse next week, when the premier three-year-olds of the Flat racing world converge on the Home of the Classics for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

There are some other valuable Derby prizes however. Seven days ago, Perfect Tapatino won the Cork Derby for Joseph O’Brien and the successful Epsom Derby hero, Seamie Heffernan and tomorrow, it is the turn of the Magners Ulster Derby (3.25) at Down Royal.

Heffernan will not be available to add to his Derby CV due to Royal Ascot engagements but O’Brien Jnr, who saddled last year’s Irish Derby hero Latrobe and has ridden victors of both Curragh and Epsom features but has never gotten his head in front in this, is represented by Frankel’s son, King’s Vow.

The last-time out victor is partnered by Declan McDonogh, who was successful on Alhellal for Athy trainer Maurice Phelan in 2012, but they face stiff opposition, with Kashagan (Archie Watson/David Egan) and Future Investment (Ralph Beckett/Gary Carroll) ensuring a strong cross-channel challenge.

And then there is Godolphin-owned Halimi, who is still a maiden, having not made it to the track as a juvenile. He did finish second on his last two appearances however and most significantly, is the choice of Jim Bolger to represent him as he pursues a third consecutive triumph in the race. Rory Cleary does the steering.


Crosse in form

Nathan Crosse is red hot at the moment, having driven home five winners since this day last week. The older of the talented brothers, he would have gotten great joy no doubt from edging out last year’s champion apprentice Shane by a nose for the first leg of a double at Leopardstown last evening.

That brings his tally to 11 for the current campaign and it is no surprise to see him well employed over the weekend, with five trainers calling on him at Limerick, Down Royal and Tipperary.

Willie McCreery has provided him with five of his triumphs and supplies four rides but it may be that renewing acquaintances with the Kieran Cotter-trained Polly Douglas is his best chance of maintaining his current run in the Get Your Free Trial Now At Handicap (2.15) at Down Royal.

The pair combined to win an apprentice handicap at this venue three weeks ago and though Polly Douglas is racing off a four-pound higher mark, she is actually a pound better off than last-time out, with Crosse able to claim his full seven pounds, as against only two on that occasion.

Teddy Boy is a notable challenger though, with David Egan on board for Eddie Lynam, who has claimed the last three renewals.


Shoofly don’t bother Lupini

Frankie Dettori is the best known Milanese racing personality and the 48-year-old has been exhibiting the flying dismount regularly again at Royal Ascot during the week.

Ireland has our own representative of the Italian fashion capital in Natalia Lupini, who developed a love of horse racing when seeing the renowned Palio in Siena for the first time and came to Ireland as a teenager to pursue that love.

The young trainer keeps a small string in Gilford, on the Down side of the Armagh border and has illustrated her capability on a number of occasions since recording her first winner in 2016.

Blairmayne has been a tremendous flagbearer, most recently bagging his fourth success at the Curragh. Lupini has a good chance of registering a second winner of the season, from just 10 runners, with Shoofly in the Handicap (5.20) on Sunday.

The six-year-old, who runs in the trainer’s colours, is a daughter of Azamour, out of a Giant’s Causeway mare and if she is never going to get near the feats of her predecessors, this contest might be in her compass, coming off a good fourth last time out. Shane Foley is an interesting booking too.

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