Curragh murk may hobble Royal hopes

The Queen's colt out to avenge Epsom defeat but soft ground puts Irish Derby challenge in doubt

The greatest concern expressed yesterday by those closest to Carlton House ahead of this afternoon's Irish Derby concerned not the opposition, but the weather. With the ground at the Curragh already soft after persistent precipitation, trainer Sir Michael Stoute warned that any further deterioration in underfoot conditions could rule the hot favourite out of the Classic.

The colt won on easy going as a juvenile, but a mile-and-a-half slog in the mud round a track that already puts a premium on stamina would not be Stoute's first-choice scenario. "We're stuck with what's there and we'd go with that," he said in Newmarket yesterday, "but any more rain, and we'd have to have a look."

Ireland's richest contest has taken on a variety of guises over the years: a lap of honour, a decider, a consolation prize. In the absence of the winner of the original at Epsom, Pour Moi, and the presence of the four who followed him home – in order Treasure Beach, Carlton House, Memphis Tennessee and Native Khan – today's 146th running could be considered as fulfilling the last-named purpose.

But there is more than the hope of compensation, fine reward though the €¤725,000 (£633,000) first prize would be; the margins earlier this month were close enough and the door is still open for a dominant display that could shake up the pecking order in the middle-distance division.

Carlton House, who will carry the Queen's colours for the first time in an Irish Derby and for only the fourth time in Ireland, has an upwardly-mobile profile; his hard-fought and arguably unlucky third in the Derby was only his fourth run and since then he has looked in his homework as if the experience has tempered him favourably. "No reason why not," said his rider Ryan Moore, "he's a tough-minded progressive sort of horse."

The Irish – and in particular Aidan O'Brien and the Coolmore partners – guard their premier prize with zeal; the last British-trained winner was Balanchine, in the Godolphin colours, in 1994. Eight victors, including the last five, have emerged from Ballydoyle; among them, the race providedDerby doubles for Galileo and High Chaparral and instant redemption for Dylan Thomas, third at Epsom, Soldier Of Fortune (fifth), Frozen Fire (11th) and Fame And Glory (second).

The Co Tipperary stable, which has also notched three clean sweeps in the race, supplies half of today's field of eight, with the Derby 10th Seville and the Irish Guineas winner Roderic O'Connor backing up Treasure Beach and Memphis Tennessee.

The weekend's first Curragh Group One blood went to O'Brien, when Misty For Me bounced back from her fifth place in the Oaks to take yesterday's Pretty Polly Stakes, and in the process the considerable scalp of the five-times top-level winner Midday.

Misty For Me, heroine of the Irish 1,000 Guineas on the track in May, made every yard of the ten furlongs under Seamie Heffernan and Midday, the 1-3 favourite, had no answer at all as the daughter of Galileo ran clear away from her in the straight to score by six lengths. "She wasn't comfortable going down the hill at Epsom," said Heffernan, "and today may prove her best trip."

There was one strike for the raiders in Co Kildare, though. Red Cadeaux, Ed Dunlop stablemate of Native Khan, loved the ground to rout the locals by nine lengths in the Curragh Cup.

The most valuable domestic race yesterday, the Northumberland Plate, was a triumph for youth and experience as Tominator, ridden by the apprentice Paul Pickard and trained by the 87-year-old Reg Hollinshead, took the £92,475 first prize at 25-1.

Pickard, riding the grey gelding for the first time, held his mount, trying two miles for the first time, away from the pace before picking off rivals down the straight. He burst clear a furlong out and had power in reserve to repel Montaff (18-1) by a length and three-quarters, with Deauville Flyer (8-1) pipping Petara Bay (40-1) for third.

But if the 23-year-old's cool judgement of pace was impeccable, one turn of post-match phrase was less so. "I was told to drop him out like a non-trier," he said, "and then come through and pass as many as I could."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'