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2020 Irish Derby Festival Tips – Three horses to back on Sunday at the Curragh

  • Day two of the Irish Derby Festival features one Group One
  • Magical is the odds-on favourite for the Pretty Polly Stakes
  • The Pretty Polly and Greenlands Stakes will be shown live on ITV4
  • We've also covered the Rockingham Handicap Sprint
curragh racecourse
Curragh races. (Getty)

We take a look at the three big races at the Curragh on Sunday and provide readers with our day two Irish Derby Festival tips for Sunday 28th June.

While the second day of the Irish Derby Festival is usually headlined by the Irish Oaks, that fillies Classic has been given it’s own card later in the summer. The Group One Pretty Polly Stakes is now the main event on Sunday, along with the Greenlands Stakes and the thrilling Rockingham Handicap sprint.

I’ve taken a closer at that trio of lucrative races and picked out my Irish Derby Festival tips.

Irish Derby Festival Day Two Card

Race Time
Race Title
2:00 Barronstown Stud Irish EBF Fillies Maiden 7f
2:35Irish Stallion Farms EBF 7f
3:10 Finlay Volvo Cars Race 1m2f
3:45 Paddy Power Rockingham Handicap (3yo+) 5f
4:15 Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes (Group 2) 6f
4:45 Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f
5:15 Equine MediRecord Handicap 1m2f
5:45 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Handicap 6f

Irish Derby Festival Tips

Race 1 – Rockingham Handicap Tips

Although pace has been drawn in stalls four, five, and six, a high draw is usually preferable over the minimum distance at the Curragh. Strong Johnson and Cityman could take the field along on the far side. They will likely be joined by ALLIGATOR ALLEY – providing he gets off to a smooth start – and I fancy Joseph O’Brien’s three-year-old will be too quick for his elders.

Poor starts hampered Alligator Alley’s progress as a juvenile. O’Brien’s youngster did manage to win a maiden and a Listed race at York, but paid the price for awkward beginnings in the Flying Childers Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup. Alligator Alley was also mightily unlucky in the Molecomb Stakes, where he found himself sandwiched between two wavering runners at the two-pole, before staying on to finish a length-second to Liberty Beach.

Alligator Alley looked set to make a winning return to action in a Listed contest at Naas earlier this month, but was passed in the closing stages by Punita Aurora and couldn’t make up the deficit. Three-year-old’s have a decent record in this handicap, as do horses who’re dropping down to handicap company from a pattern race. If he starts well, then I’m expecting Alligator Alley will be difficult to deny.

alligator alley
Alligator Alley (left) winning a Listed prize at York last season. (Getty)

Race 2 – Greenlands Stakes Tips

Speak In Colours4:15pm Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes (Group 2) 6fGET 5/2 HERE
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Make A Challenge enjoyed a fairy-tale rise to prominence last season, and enforced his quality with a fine Listed triumph on his reappearance. He sits a long way clear of most of the field in terms of rating, and will probably get backed into short-priced favouritism.

The only one who comes close to Make A Challenge at the ratings is SPEAK IN COLOURS. Joseph O’Brien’s charge has performed well so far this term, finishing second to a decent sort in Lancaster House over seven furlongs, before a three-length defeat in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

All of Speak In Colours' victories since moving to O’Brien’s yard have come over course-and-distance. In fact, Speak In Colours is unbeaten over six furlongs at the Curragh, having won the Phoenix Sprint Stakes as a three-year-old, along with the Listed Dash Stakes and the Group Three Renaissance Stakes last year.

Following that excellent run at Royal Ascot, I really fancy Speak In Colours will extend his fantastic record at this course and lower Make A Challenge’s colours.

Race 3 – Pretty Polly Stakes Tips

Magical will, more than likely, carry and odds-on price into battle and Aidan O’Brien’s filly has an excellent chance of landing a fifth career Group One. That being said, O’Brien’s record in this race isn’t as strong as you would think. Ireland’s top trainer has only won four of the last 20 editions of the Pretty Polly Stakes, and all four victories have been with three-year-olds.

I have no interest in backing Magical at 10/11, so I’m going to take her on with CAYENNE PEPPER. Jessica Harrington’s filly looked a star in the making at two, winning two maidens before a bloodless Group Three triumph in the Flame Of Tara Stakes. 

Cayenne Pepper then looked a little outpaced entering the dip in the Fillies’ Mile, and had her run checked by Quadrilateral at a crucial stage. Yet, Shane Foley’s mount picked up again in the final furlong and was gaining on the leaders as she crossed the line fourth.

I’m confident this step up in trip will suit Cayenne Pepper perfectly, and she could serve up a stiff challenge to Magical and Fleeting, who sit ahead of her in the betting.

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