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Every year, in June and July, the racing world is gripped by Derby fever, with the French, English, and Irish Derbies all held in quick succession. Winning both the English and Irish editions is considered one of the most prestigious milestones in flat racing and the 18 horses that have achieved the feat since 1866 are legendary. If you are new to racing or would like to know more about the Irish Derby, we’ve got some key facts and figures to bring you up to speed.
The Irish Derby is a Group 1 flat race open to three-year-olds and is run over one mile and four furlongs (2,414 metres). Colts in the race carry nine stones in weight, while fillies get a three-pound weight allowance. The race takes place at the end of June or the beginning of July at the Curragh racecourse. The race is usually held three weeks after the UK equivalent.
The 2020 edition was won by Santiago, ridden by Seamie Heffernan, and trained by Aidan O’Brien who also claimed second, third, and fourth places. The 2/1 winner prevailed by a head from Tiger Moth. It was the fourth win for Heffernan and a record 14th for O’Brien who trained his first winner (Desert King) back in 1997. It was also a record 15th win for owner Michael Tabor who also got his first triumph with Desert King.
The first horse to win the English and Irish Derby double was the Fred McCabe-trained Irish runner Orby back in 1907. Since then, another 17 horses have achieved the feat, the most recent being Harzand in 2016.
Harzand gives a new record to HH the Aga Khan who becomes the first to have owned and bred five Epsom Derby winners pic.twitter.com/X73bol1gFV
— Aga Khan Studs (@AgaKhanStuds) June 4, 2016
The fastest winning time was recorded by the American bred, Irish-trained St Jovite who defeated Dr Devious by 12 lengths to set a new Curragh record of 2:25.60 back in 1992. He was ridden by jockey Christy Roche and trained by Jim Bolger.
How the Favourites Fare
Half of the last 20 races have been won by the favourites. However, there have been some big-priced winners over the years including the Aidan O’Brien-trained Sovereign who triumphed at 33/1 under Padraig Beggy in 2019. The longest-priced winner was Zarathustra who came home at 50/1 in 1954.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) June 29, 2019
Picking a Winner
You can study the past form of the entries and look at historical results to get an idea of which horse might go well in this event. Alternatively, there are plenty of free horse racing tips from betting tools and industry experts as well as resources, such as reviews of past races, out there to help you make your decision. But a very basic overview of the current opinion is that because Aidan O’Brien has trained 11 of the last 15 winners, his entries are always worth keeping an eye on. Although he has been known to have five or six runners, so picking between them may be tricky!
The Irish Derby brings one of the most exciting few weeks of flat racing to a conclusion. Like the French and English equivalents, Derby Day at the Curragh brings fashion, glamour, and celebrity to Irish racing but it also showcases some of the best talent that Ireland has to offer.