International

Back

Kevin Prendergast confident thriving Madhmoon can deliver Irish Derby dream

Kevin Prendergast turns 87 next week and in Madhmoon he believes he has his best ever chance of fulfilling a lifelong ambition of winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

A close-up second in the Derby at Epsom and sparkling work since has fuelled Prendergast's dream that on Saturday he can win the Classic at the Curragh that his father, Paddy, claimed on four occasions between 1950 and 1965.

Standing in the way is his Derby conqueror Anthony Van Dyck, one of four runners for Aidan O'Brien, who is also represented by Epsom fourth Broome.

A half-length separated Madhmoon from a famous Epsom victory but Prendergast has faith the colt and rider Chris Hayes can bridge the gap on drying ground and at a track he thinks will suit.

"It’s taken a long time to get here and I’m very lucky to have lived as long as I have," said Prendergast, who has trained eight Irish Classic winners to go with his 2,000 Guineas success with Nebbiolo at Newmarket in 1977.

"I’ve got a good horse with a good chance. If he runs as well as he did at Epsom then we might get across the line first this time.

"He’s been bombing since Epsom and I couldn’t be happier with him. I’m not saying he’s better than he was going to Epsom but everything is good with him and the track will suit.

"The ground is due to dry out over the next few days and that too will be in his favour."

Reflecting on Madhmoon’s performance at Epsom, Prendergast, described by Johnny Murtagh on Tuesday as "the King of the Curragh", said: "That stumble coming down the hill meant he grabbed the bridle a bit sooner than we wanted. As a result he probably got there a bit soon but he showed he got the trip well and was beaten only half a length.

"The Derby form got boosted a couple of times at Ascot last week and it looks as if what Aidan [O’Brien] said about it being a good Derby was right.

"Obviously, we’ll again be taking on the [Ballydoyle] battalions on Saturday, including the Epsom winner [Anthony Van Dyck], but if our horse runs as well as he did at Epsom he might go one better. Hopefully, he’ll arrive late and get to the line first.

"My father won almost all the big races in Britain bar the Derby and Madhmoon getting beaten in the race a few weeks ago when he just got nabbed probably means my best chance of winning the Epsom Derby has gone.

"But it would mean a lot to win the Irish Derby on my home patch. Until this year Ragapan in 1973 was probably the best horse I ran in the race. He was a good horse but he had a lot of problems. He ran fifth at Epsom and finished second to Weaver's Hall at the Curragh."

Aidan O'Brien accounts for six of the ten colts left in Saturday's Classic following the forfeit stage on Tuesday. There is no British-trained contender and O'Brien announced Anthony Van Dyck and Broome will be his main runners as he bids to win the race for the 13th time.

He said: "The plan is to have four runners with Norway and Sovereign joining Anthony Van Dyck and Broome in the line-up."

Ryan Moore, who has yet to win the Irish Derby, will ride Anthony Van Dyck, who was partnered by Seamie Heffernan at Epsom, while Donnacha O'Brien is likely to continue his association with Broome.

"Ryan usually rides our number one horse in the big races," said O'Brien.

Anthony Van Dyck is the general 5-4 favourite for the Curragh Classic, with Madhmoon, an 11-4 chance, just ahead of 3-1 shot Broome in the market.

O'Brien added Investec Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood will tackle the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes on Friday.

He said: "She came out of Epsom well and we couldn't be happier with her. We never thought she was a slow filly so coming down two furlongs in trip shouldn't be a problem. She quickened up very well at Epsom and whether it was greenness or the trip that found her out is hard to say."

Monarch Of Egypt, a winner on debut at Naas before meeting with a setback which caused him to miss Royal Ascot, is likely to run in the Group 2 Gain Railway Stakes on Saturday when his rivals will include the Ger Lyons-trained dual winner Siskin.

The ground at the Curragh on Tuesday was good to yielding, yielding in places on the round course and yielding, yielding to soft on the straight track. The forecast is for mainly dry weather with temperatures expected to reach the high 20s in the next few days.

 

Share/Bookmark