Irish Derby More Social Than Influential

The Irish Derby is one of the most prestigious races on the Irish flat calendar but following the small field in last Saturday’s race the question has to be asked whether the race needs to be revised.

From a social event point of view, the Curragh racecourse has done a tremendous job in attracting a non-race going crowd to the county Kildare venue. Last Saturday the racecourse was packed with plenty of socialisers who wouldn’t know the first thing about a horse or if asked the question, “Where is Australia?” they would probably answer “It’s down under”.

The question has to be asked, ‘Does the race itself need to be restructured to fit into the European calendar?

In 2005 the race was won by the Andre Fabre trained Hurricane Run with the same trainer saddling Gentlewave to finish 2nd in 2006. Since 2007 we have only seen two French raiders make the trip to Ireland and with such a valuable prize pool on offer for the first eight home in the Irish Derby, both Horse Racing Ireland and the Curragh racecourse need to work on an initiative for attracting international runners to the Irish flat showdown.

Massive work has already began to promote Irish Champions Weekend which takes place at Leopardstown Racecourse and The Curragh on the weekend of September 13th & 14th and although it’s hard to model the Irish Derby on this example, I really think the question needs to be asked, what do we need to attract more runners for such a valuable showpiece on the Irish racing calendar?

Do we need to move the Irish Derby on the racing calendar so that it fits in better with the French racing calendar? The three week gap between the Epsom and Irish Derby wasn’t a problem with both the Epsom winner and runner up been declared for the Irish showpiece.

So what do we need to do then to attract more French or European raiders? The option of changing the distance back to the new French equivalent of one mile two furlongs from one mile four could be an option but then we are running the risk of losing out the option of the Epsom winner taking their chance.

It cannot be laughed at that the quality of last Saturday’s Irish Derby was by far the strongest we have seen in a long time but is there any structure that we can implement to have at least a field of ten compete for the prize money and make the race an interesting betting heat for punters?

Last Saturday’s race was a shambles betting-wise as a punter couldn’t even have an each way bet in the race with only five runners taking part and also a hefty Rule 4 when Kingston Hill & Geoffrey Chaucer were withdrawn.

Signing off on this I have to compliment the Curragh and their promotional team on an excellent weekend at racing headquarters in attracting new race goers by offering alternatives such as excellent food in the food village and music at the venue from country music craze Nathan Carter and live bands throughout Saturday.

It is clearly evident from attending the Derby weekend that it has been established as a social event on the Irish calendar but now we need to quickly implement and sort out the problem of getting bigger fields.