The Irish Derby is one of the biggest calendar highlights of the flat racing season. The race itself is spectacular – with a rich history and a star-studded field of thoroughbreds, it gets the atmosphere crackling at Curragh Racecourse.

However, the Irish Derby is just one of 23 races that take place across the three-day festival. The Curragh is ‘Where Champions Are Made’, and this year the Irish Derby Festival runs from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th June.

As well as the three thrilling days of racing, there’s after-party fun at the venue, with live music and entertainment, including an ABBA tribute band and a Gospel Choir.

Along with the high fashion on show for Ladies’ Day, around the racecourse, food and family-friendly fun can be found, including a Kids Zone and a train to ride at the weekend. Children under the age of 18 gain free entry, and the Irish Derby Festival really has something for all, which makes it a fantastic day (or three!) out.

However, it will be the top races, the big Group 1 contests, that gain the most attention and the most action in the markets across the 2024 Irish Derby Festival.

Here is a look at some of those upcoming highlights.

Irish Derby – 30th June 2024 at 4:05pm

The Irish Derby (Group 1) is what the entire festival is all about. This is why racegoers are at The Curragh or tuning in to live streams to catch the famous race on Sunday. It is, after all, one of the top five most important flat races in Ireland and carries a prize purse of €1m.

The modern Irish Derby was introduced in 1866, and it is open to three-year-olds, excluding geldings. Fillies get a 3lb allowance on the 9st 0lb race weight. Aidan O’Brien is the all-time leading trainer, having recorded 15 winners, starting with Desert King in 1997 and most recently seeing Auguste Rodin get home first last year.

This success for Auguste Rodin was during his superb three-year-old campaign, in which he also won the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby, along with the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Auguste Rodin has gone on to become a star of flat racing and will likely be tackling both Royal Ascot and the Irish Derby again this year.

The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot is a popular race for Irish Derby winners to follow up with. Both Westover in 2022 and then Auguste Rodin last year completed the double, so it’s something that’s definitely on the radar again in 2024.

The key 2024 Irish Derby challengers

Aidan O’Brien’s leading charges at the Irish Derby have to come into focus again for racing betting. He has the ante-post favourite Los Angeles and main challenger City Of Troy in this year’s contest, with both having recorded victories this season.

It’s Los Angeles who heads up the ante-post market after winning the Irish Derby Stakes Trial at Leopardstown in May. Los Angeles achieved a solid third-place finish in the Epsom Derby after running into some late struggles.

City Of Troy won at the course and distance as a juvenile last year and heads into the action after picking up the Epsom Derby win earlier in the month ahead of Ambiente Friendly and Los Angeles.

Trainer Charlie Appleby has a couple of the main challenges in the field with the in-form Arabian Crown and Ancient Wisdom. Arabian Crown had a superb juvenile campaign and looked impressive in landing the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown in April.

Roger Varian’s Matsuri could be another contender to get his nose in the frame, though he has been less exposed to quality opposition like some of the rivals he will face at the Irish Derby.

What does it take to win the Irish Derby?

Stats can help provide a good insight into which horse will win at the 2024 Irish Derby. Look for form and insights listed in the TonyBet sportsbook.

The last three winners of the Irish Derby had run in the Epsom Derby last time out. Nine of the last 12 Irish Derby winners had taken on the English Classic Derby challenge in their previous race before hitting The Curragh. Four of those nine were winners at Epsom.

Three race favourites in Irish Derby betting have taken a victory in the last four editions, so the class has shone through in the fixture recently. The longest-priced winner in the last decade was 33/1 shot Sovereign in 2019 for Aidan O’Brien.

A low draw is another crucial element for the Irish Derby challengers, with five of the last nine winners coming from one of the first three spots in the stalls. Experience at the 1m 2f distance (or greater) is also often crucial, with all but two of the last 12 victories having gone at that distance at least once. All but one of the last dozen winners had run at least twice in the season before the Irish Derby.

Last 10 Irish Derby Winners

2023Auguste RodinRyan MooreAidan O’Brien4/11F
2022WestoverColin KeaneRalph Beckett11/7JF
2021Hurricane LaneWilliam BuickCharlie Appleby4/1
2020SantiagoSeamie HeffernanAidan O’Brien2/1F
2019SovereignP B BeggyAidan O’Brien33/1
2018LatrobeDonnacha O’BrienJoseph O’Brien14/1
2017CapriSeamie HeffernanAidan O’Brien6/1
2016HarzandPat SmullenDermot Weld4/6F
2015Jack HobbsWilliam BuickJohn Gosden10/11F
2014AustraliaJoseph O’BrienAidan O’Brien1/8F

Cairn Pretty Polly Stakes (Group 1) – 29th June at 3:30pm

Some top fillies and mares get their chance to shine on the big stage at the Irish Derby Festival on Friday. The Cairn Pretty Polly Stakes, a race named after the former racing star who won 22 of 24 races and landed a British Fillies Triple Crown, is a 10-furlong contest. The ante-post favourite for 2024 is former distance winner (1m 2f) Bluestocking, trained by Ralph Beckett.

She picked up a win on her first trip of the season, showing a good turn of speed at the Middleton Fillies’ Stakes at York in mid-May. There is naturally top talent around in the market, making for a competitive renewal.

The popular Emily Upjohn, a proven Group 1 winner, goes for John & Thady Gosden, while Aidan O’Brien, who has won three of the last nine editions, also has a couple of notable runners in contention in the form of Opera Singer and Ylang Ylang.

Six of the last 12 winners of the race came from the top three in the betting market. Nine of the last dozen winners of the Pretty Polly were at least four years old, and while seven of the last 12 had claimed a win in their race before the Pretty Polly Stakes, only two of those happened in the Oaks at Epsom.

Airlie Stud Stakes (Group 2) – 29th June at 2:20pm

The Airlie Stud Stakes (also known as the Balanchine Stakes) is a two-year-old fillies contest. It is run at a distance of six furlongs and any Group winners lining up for the race get a 3lb penalty to handle. The race was bumped up to Group 3 in 2011 and then to Group 2 in 2019.

This is another of the feature races of the Irish Derby Festival in which top trainer Aidan O’Brien has shone, thanks to his famed work with fillies. O’Brien has seen eight of the last 12 editions go his way, the bulk of those victories recorded with Ryan Moore in the saddle.

This is an important race for the youngsters, who typically go forward to either the Phoenix Stakes or the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. It’s not uncommon to see fillies return to the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes back at The Curragh in the future.

In 2016 and 2017, Roly Poly and then Clemmie went on to score the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes after winning the Airlie Stud. All but two of the last 12 winners of the Airlie Stud were from the top three in the market, while all winners in that span had completed at least one race in the season before the fixture.

O’Brien will be heavy-handed for this year’s renewal, with the likes of Lady With The Lamp, January and Heavens Gate likely to be lining up.

GAIN Railway Stakes (Group 2) – 29th June at 1:40pm

The Railway Stakes is a 6F sprint that is only open to juvenile two-year-olds. So, race fans will get to see some prospects in action at the Curragh in this exciting Group 2 contest. Favourites haven’t fared too strongly in recent editions, with only two scoring in the last dozen renewals. However, two-thirds of the last 12 winners did come from the top three in the betting market.

The Railway Stakes is an important contest on the road to the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh, and because of that context, it is always worth keeping an eye on. Four of the last dozen GAIN Railway Stakes winners have gone on to score the Phoenix. This includes last year’s stunning 100/1 winner Bucanero Fuerte, trained by Adrian Murray.

Jockey Rossa Ryan has won two of the last three editions of the Railway Stakes, and eight of the last 12 winners had won on their last run before taking on this challenge.

Dubai International Stakes (Group 3) – 29th June at 2:55pm

A testing 1m 2f challenge, the Dubai International Stakes is an exciting Group 3 contest at the Irish Derby Festival. The race is for three-year-olds and above, and previous Group winners receive a penalty, while fillies and mares get a 3lb allowance.

Aidan O’Brien has an excellent recent record in the race, scoring six of the last dozen editions, most recently with jockey Ryan Moore leading Aikhal home in 2022. This trainer/jockey partnership has paired up for success in five of the last 12 editions.

Just two of the last 12 winners have scored a victory on their last run before the fixture. However, previous experience at The Curragh seems to count for a lot, with all but two of the last 12 winners having had at least one previous spin on the course.

In contention this season for the Group 3 win is Aidan O’Brien’s Continuous who has won at The Curragh before. It is likely to be a competitive race as it tends to be, with other highly rated runners including Jack Channon’s Certain Lad, Adrian Murray’s big-shot Elegant Man who has won twice this season, and the promising Liberty Lane who was a beaten favourite last time out.

Jebel Ali Racecourse & Stables Dash Stakes (Listed) – 30th June at 2:15pm

A Listed 6f sprint on the turf, the Jebel Ali Racecourse & Stables Dash Stakes is a great race to catch in the build-up to the Irish Derby on Sunday. Comanche Falls scored last year’s edition after staying on well inside the final furlong, before going on to score again later in the year at York.

Celebration Stakes (Listed) – 30th June at 3:25pm

The Listed Celebration Stakes is positioned as the race just before the Irish Derby. It’s a great set-up for the main event, and the fixture, which is open to three-year-olds and above, received its Listed status in 2001.

It’s a one-mile contest, in which trainer Jessica Harrington has a good recent record in the fixture. She has trained three of the last six winners, including last year’s success with Bold Discovery, which was done with the fastest time since 2013.

So keep your eyes on the prize!

Those are some of the upcoming highlights from the Irish Derby Festival 2024 to look forward to. You can catch all the ante-post markets and odds for all 23 races at TonyBet. You can check race form and explore different bet types directly from within our great racecards.

You can also take the Irish Derby Festival betting on the go with you thanks to the secure, fast TonyBet mobile app. This means that you can watch the action from The Curragh and soak up the craic while scanning the latest odds – download it now and get ready for the big off!

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