Irish Derby

The Irish Derby is one of the top middle-distance races for three-year-olds in Europe.

It regularly attracts the winners and placed horses from the Epsom Derby held around three weeks earlier.

The Irish Derby is a three-year-old thoroughbred colt and filly flat Group One horse race held in Ireland. It takes place every year in late June at the Curragh over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs.

18 horses have completed the Derby double including Nijinsky (1970), Shergar (1981), Generous (1991), Galileo (2001) and Camelot (2012).

Find out more about the Irish Derby:

Irish Derby

The Race

The Irish Derby takes place at the Curragh Racecourse in late June or early July over a mile and a half.

The Curragh provides a very different test to Epsom Racecourse and it is not unusual for the English Derby form to be reversed.

This is far more of a galloping track without the undulations of Epsom and there is usually more give in the ground, putting extra emphasis on stamina.

Famous Irish Derby Winners & History

The modern incarnation of the Irish Derby was first staged in 1866 over a mile and three-quarters. The distance was shortened to a mile and a half six years’ later but it was not until 1907 that Orby became the first horse to win the Epsom Derby and the Irish equivalent.

Prize money for the race received a major boost in 1962 when it was run as the Irish Sweeps Derby.

Santa Claus became the second horse to follow up his Epsom victory here in 1964 and it has been a prime target for winners of the English Classic ever since.

The brilliant English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky won the Irish Derby in 1970. He was ridden on this occasion by Liam Ward who produced him with a devastating late run to beat Meadowville by three lengths.

Other horses to win both Derby races in the 70’s were Grundy (1975), The Minstrel (1977), Shirley Heights (1978) and Troy (1979).

Shergar continued the trend in 1981 when winning in effortless fashion under Lester Piggott, substituting for the suspended Walter Swinburn. He raced in the colours of His Highness The Aga Khan who would enjoy further success in the race with Shahrastani (1986), Sinndar (2000), Alamshar (2003) and Harzand (2016).

In recent times, the Irish Derby has been dominated by owner Michael Tabor and trainer Aidan O’Brien.

The latter won the race for the first time in 1997 with Desert King. He struck again with Epsom Derby winners Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) and enjoyed a monopoly of the race from 2006 to 2012 inclusive.

Santiago provided O’Brien with his fourteenth winner in the race in 2020 when leading home a remarkable 1,2,3,4 for the stable.

Key Irish Derby Trials

The English Derby is far and away the best guide to this race with two-thirds of recent winners having raced at Epsom last time out. Although winners and placed horses from that race tend to dominate the betting, others have improved markedly from their Epsom performances.

Capri (2017) had finished sixth at Epsom while Sovereign (2019) faded into tenth place after acting as a pacemaker.

Fame And Glory (2009), Treasure Beach (2011), Jack Hobbs (2015) and Hurricane Lane (2021) were all placed at Epsom before winning here.

Latrobe (2018) was unusual in that he won a maiden at the Curragh prior to winning this race while Santiago (2020) had enjoyed success in the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot, held before the Derby that year due to the pandemic.

Irish Derby Odds

There are not yet any odds for the Irish Derby in late June 2022.

Irish Derby Tips

Here are some tips for Irish Derby in June 2022:

  • 2 points to win for TBC at odds of TBC
  • 1 point each way for TBC at odds of TBC

Horses from the Irish Derby can be seen in many different races during the year. Make sure you watch all the races to see how these horses do or place your bets on ante-post betting.

Irish Derby Betting Trends

Favourites have a good record in the Irish Derby, winning five of the last ten renewals.

Camelot (2012) and Australia (2014) were both long odds-on favourites with Jack Hobbs (2015) and Harzand (2016) also justifying heavy market support.

Latrobe at 14-1 in 2018 and all-the-way winner Sovereign at 33-1 the following season bucked the trend in this race. Santiago (2020) and Hurricane Lane (2021) at 2-1 and 4-1 fitted the more traditional Irish Derby winner profile.

Irish Derby Stats

Class and stamina are the pre-requisites for winning the Irish Derby. A very high percentage of previous winners had, at the very least, been placed in a Group race. Many had contested a Group 1 race, most often the Epsom Derby.

Almost all had contested a race in excess of ten furlongs and exhibited signs of stamina.

Experience is also a factor here with most winners having already raced between four and eight times.

Fillies can enter the Irish Derby but it is most unusual, the last to succeed being Balanchine for Godolphin in 1994.

Top Trainers and Jockeys

Aidan O’Brien’s phenomenal record in this race speaks for itself with 14 winners in the last 25 years. Only John Oxx with Sinndar (2000) and Alamshar (2003) has managed to win the race more than once since O’Brien’s domination began in 1997.

The only English trained winners to break his stranglehold were Jack Hobbs for John Gosden in 2015 and Hurricane Lane for Charlie Appleby in 2021.

Despite the astonishing success for O’Brien, his retained jockey Ryan Moore has yet to win the Irish Derby. Seamie Heffernan has won the race four times on Soldier Of Fortune (2007), Frozen Fire (2008), Capri (2017) and Santiago (2020).

Betting on the Irish Derby

The Irish Derby ante-post market sparks into life immediately after the Epsom Derby.

Owners and trainers of the winner and placed horses are usually quick to announce their plans, although you should wait for confirmation before placing your Irish Derby bets.

The result of the Irish Derby will have a big impact on the ante-post betting for top middle-distance races for the rest of the season.

Australia (2014) successfully dropped down in trip for the ten-furlong International Stakes at York.

The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is usually on the agenda, although the last horse to win both races in the same season was Hurricane Run (2005).

Capri stepped up to a mile and three-quarters to win the Doncaster St Leger in 2017.

Irish Derby Betting

The odds for the Irish Derby can be currently found with the following online betting sites (UK), also check out our recommended best horse racing betting sites:

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Summary of the Irish Derby

The Irish Derby is the highlight of the season at the Curragh with the form of the Epsom Derby often put to the test.

The role of honour features many legends of the turf as the top three-year-old colts stake their claim to be the best of their generation.

As the Co-Founder of British Racecourses, I love the chance to share my enjoyment of racing with others. As a family, we have always loved the racing and went to Haydock races as kids, as often as we could. We are now lucky enough to own some fantastic racehorses who we will follow around the tracks and we have had some great wins. As part of British Racecourses, I enjoy visiting and reviewing the racecourses that we visit, all of which I think have something to offer and are brilliant in their own ways.