Sheikh Mohammed sharpens Derby rivalry with Sugar buy


Family rivalry is all very well, but perhaps not if you blatantly upstage the head honcho. After Libertarian ran such a fine second in the Derby, he was headhunted by Sheikh Mohammed to run for his Godolphin operation and is second favourite for Saturday's Irish version of the Classic. Today, though, Mohammed's cousin and namesake (their respective fathers, Rashid and Khalifa, were brothers) recruited another of the fancied runners in the Curragh contest, Sugar Boy, to his own string.

Sugar Boy, having not contested the Derby, is rather the forgotten horse among this season's elite middle-distance three-year-olds. But his potential is right there in the formbook; after chasing home the subsequent Derby fourth Battle Of Marengo on his seasonal debut, he had Derby third Galileo Rock and Libertarian behind him when he won Sandown's trial.

The Irish Derby will be the Authorized colt's last run for Patrick Prendergast; after Saturday he will be moved to a new, as yet unspecified, trainer. Most of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa's best wins have come abroad with horses handled by Mike de Kock, notably Asiatic Boy, Igugu and Lizard's Desire. His latest acquisition has yet to tackle a mile and a half, but should relish the distance; his sire won the Derby and his half-sister Sarah Lynx the Canadian International.

Sugar Boy, who has raced up to now for his breeder Richard Barnes, has not been in competitive action since Sandown in April (he was not entered at Epsom) but impressed watchers in a workout on Monday. "He's in excellent form," said Curragh-based Prendergast, "and we're very much looking forward to Saturday. We hope we can be lucky for the sheikh."

Only two men have trained more Irish Derby winners than the four sent out by Prendergast's legendary grandfather "Darkie", Vincent O'Brien with six and Aidan O'Brien, who is going for his 10th – and eighth in a row – with a team headed by Ruler Of The World. The Epsom winner is generally the 11-10 favourite to continue the Ballydoyle sequence, in front of Libertarian at around 7-2, with Trading Leather, Sugar Boy and Galileo Rock vying for third spot.

Ruler Of The World's stablemate Moth, who started favourite for the Oaks but finished only fourth, drops in class and distance tonight at Naas as she rebuilds towards next month's Irish Oaks. The daughter of Galileo, who had previously run third in the 1,000 Guineas, faces 10 rivals in a 10-furlong Listed contest.

The prevailing fast ground may rule the favourite Tiger Cliff out of Saturday's domestic feature, the Northumberland Plate. The Lady Cecil-trained four-year-old ran a fine second in the Ascot Stakes eight days ago and had been as short as 4-1 for Newcastle's historic two-miler.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Meeting Waters (2.20 Salisbury) The only one to give a well-regarded type a race on debut and is sure to have benefited from that experience.

Next best

Green Howard (4.05 Carlisle) Now below his last winning handicap mark and showed signs last time, when behind until late in proceedings, his ability remains.

Where the money's going

With doubts surrounding the participation of favourite Tiger Cliff in Saturday's Northumberland Plate, punters latched on to Ardlui, now 10-1 from 16s with Ladbrokes.