Dushyantor to keep it in family

Sue Montgomery expects the favourite to give his dam a second Irish Derby win
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Khalid Abdullah's soft spot for his favourite broodmare Slightly Dangerous may increase to marshmallow consistency tomorrow afternoon. The 17-year-old matron has already produced one Irish Derby winner in Commander In Chief and a runner-up in Deploy, and their half-brother Dushyantor is the favourite to add to the family's laurels in the Curragh Classic.

At Epsom, Dushyantor failed where Commander In Chief succeeded. But he gave Pat Eddery an uncomfortable ride, becoming unsettled by horses around him in the early stages and getting into all sorts of trouble coming down the hill before producing a sustained run in the straight.

The Sadler's Wells colt has not yet shown an instant change of pace, and the use of pacemaker Private Song tomorrow should help draw any finishing kick from his rivals.

The absence of both the Epsom hero Shaamit and the Prix du Jockey-Club winner Ragmar means that the traditional English-French Derby showdown will be contested by the two runners-up.

And the best guide to the chances of Polaris Flight will come an hour and three-quarters before the Irish Derby, when Ragmar contests the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. But the Jockey-Club form reads pretty well so far, with seventh-placed Grape Tree Road and Astor Place, eighth, both having won since.

The Henry Cecil-trained Dushyantor and Peter Chapple-Hyam's Polaris Flight head a record nine-strong British assault on the pounds 600,000 prize pool. Michael Stoute's Dr Massini, a late withdrawal from Epsom, owes his second favouritism to reputation rather than performance - although unbeaten in two runs, he has yet to tackle Pattern company - and he has been plagued by unsoundness. His rider Michael Kinane, surprisingly, has yet to win his local Classic in 14 previous attempts.

Blinkers will be fitted to the handsome head of Alhaarth, a respectable staying-on fifth at Epsom, in a bid to recapture the lazy colt's two-year- old sparkle.

However, the last horse to get off the mark for the season in the Irish Derby was the 33-1 outsider Weavers Hall 23 years ago, so recent history is against Dick Hern's bid for a second winner after the very smart Troy supplemented his Epsom success 1979.

Big-race specialists Godolphin rely on the potential of Sharaf Kabeer, an easy winner of his maiden at Kempton but facing a huge step up in class, and the proven form of French Derby fourth Don Micheletto, who seems held by Polaris Flight and may not possess the stamina to last home in a truly- run mile and a half race.

The raiding team is completed by the Clive Brittain pair Spartan Heartbeat, who looks a complete no-hoper, and Amfortas, who stepped up on anything he had previously shown when he beat, among others, Derby third Shantou at Royal Ascot.

The best of the weak home side may prove to be Aiden O'Brien's local 2,000 Guineas runner-up Rainbow Blues, though no maiden has ever won an Irish Derby.

Dushyantor (4.00) can head the expected clean sweep for Britain by beating Alhaarth and Polaris Flight, giving Eddery his fifth victory and ensuring the Group One victory flag is hoisted above Warren Place for the third time this season.