All eyes on Derby this weekend

After an epic week at Ascot, racing’s summer moves on to The Curragh this weekend, where the Irish Derby is the main event. One of the most remarkable features of last week’s events in Berkshire was the marked drop in attendances as racegoers reacted markedly to the inadequacies of the much-vaunted new stand for the ordinary punter.    The disproportionate emphasis in such structures towards corporate and privileged accommodation has unfortunately been all too common and it is to be hoped that The Curragh’s refurbishment will learn from the expensive mistakes of its opulent counterpart.   In terms of racing, much of the attention was centred upon the Australian sprinter invasion and its apparent superiority over the northern hemisphere. But it is entirely possible that the best sprinter around did not appear at Ascot at all. Sakhee’s Secret was hugely impressive at Salisbury and has major claims to taking this year’s sprinting crown.   The Irish Derby is popularly seen as a laydown for Aiden O’Brien’s Epsom second, Eagle Mountain, who arrived too late to threaten Authorised and spoil Dettori’s tour de force. He now trades at odds-on in his bid to reinforce Fallon’s rehabilitation. The value lies elsewhere, however.    If Andre Fabre decides to send Royal and Regal to Ireland the hint should be taken. This horse has a big chance on form and is a very attractive bet at 10/1.   The other big event at the meeting is the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes. Ballydoyle’s Peeping Fawn has been installed as favourite on the back of a great run in The Oaks, but the French filly West Wind put up a very taking performance in the Prix de Diane and will take a lot of beating.      Looking slightly further ahead, an intriguing contest is shaping up for the Eclipse Stakes on Saturday week. Authorised is already odds-on for this – but George Washington is also entered and it is quite likely that this may be the last opportunity to get odds against this very high class act after his unfortunate sojourn at stud.