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Friday 15 December 2017

Curragh change is badly needed

Geoffrey Chaucer, with Joseph O'Brien up, on their way to winning the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes. Curragh Racecourse, The Curragh, Co. Kildare. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile.
Geoffrey Chaucer, with Joseph O'Brien up, on their way to winning the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes. Curragh Racecourse, The Curragh, Co. Kildare. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile.

FEW have a good word to say about the Irish Derby as it currently stands as on Saturday we witnessed another uncompetitive renewal.

Had Kingston Hill run in the race as was the intention, however, we would have had only six runners but a clash between two very good colts, one of whom won at Epsom and the other runner-up, who had improved notably enough for his connections to speak rather bullishly prior to the Curragh rematch.

Australia was, therefore, left to waltz to the Epsom/Curragh double and people bawled about the lack of a competitive edge - which they were right about - and the lack of runners - which is also hard to argue with.

The thing is, had Kingston Hill run in the race we probably would have had the same winner, we just probably wouldn't have had the Ballydoyle 1-2-3 and it would have been a lot more entertaining and informative.

Had five more horses run in the race, what difference would that have made? We could have had a 10-runner field but the result would still be the same.

It's just a shame that the only horse that could really jazz it up a bit was a non-runner.

Should we have been relying on Kingston Hill only to make a race of it, though? In his absence should there not have been another three-year-old in Ireland, England or even France that could give Australia a race for the ludicrously large pot on offer? Fascinating Rock just found the conditions too quick but at least he turned up for the fight.

John Magnier was clear in his comments afterwards that revealed his unhappiness of changing the French Derby distance to 10 furlongs and those who ran at Royal Ascot quite simply deserve more time before jumping into the top level again.

There's no point trying to point the blame in this situation. Anyone with a decent opinion on the resolution needs to be listened to. Cheaper entry at the earlier stages may have to become an option and the prospect of a 'win and you're in' scenario shouldn't be ruled out.

But after making the bold move to have the Irish Derby on a Saturday evening, it may now be time for the Curragh to make the next move and put the race back a week to give the Royal Ascot runners every chance of also turning up at the Curragh.

Have a 'win and you're in' race at Royal Ascot and possibly elsewhere and maybe even offer a bonus. But let's move back a week later and dangle the carrot.

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