Westover, trained by Ralph Beckett, crosses the finishline under jockey Colin Keane in Irish Derby last year. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The sense of excitement is rising ahead of the 16th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival, which will take place at The Curragh Racecourse in Ireland from June 30 to July 2. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby itself will run on Sunday and will see some of Europe’s top trainers, jockeys and horses battling it out on the famous Curragh track for derby glory. Last year’s winner was the Ralph Beckett-trained Westover, who was first past the post in the confident hands of jockey Colin Keane.

The centrepiece, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby has become one of the premier races in the global calendar with DDF sponsoring six of the eight races on the card on Sunday.

Potential contenders

This year’s race is shaping up to be a fine contest with three of the first four horses home in the Epsom Derby are in line to clash once again including Aidan O’Brien’s Auguste Rodin, who is bidding to give Ryan Moore his first win in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and if successful, would become the first horse to complete the Epsom-Curragh Derby double since Harzand in 2016. However, John Murphy’s White Birch, a first ride in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby for Dylan Browne McMonagle, and the Jessica Harrington-trained Sprewell, third and fourth respectively at Epsom a month ago, appear to be the biggest threats to O’Brien’s Epsom Derby hero. Other potential contenders are Adelaide River, Covent Garden, Peking Opera, San Antonio, Knight to King, Salt Bay, Proud & Legal and Up & Under.

Dubai Duty Free will host guests in the magnificent Curragh grandstand, the Aga Khan Stand. Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “This year marks our 16th as title sponsor of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby although we have been working with the Curragh Racecourse, supporting them, and sponsoring other races for 22 years now. Over the term of our sponsorship, we have worked closely with the Curragh team and have endeavoured to grow this event into a festival with activities taking place both on and off the track.”