7/1 winner in feature race ensures thrilling start to Curragh Irish Derby Festival
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival did not disappoint on day one.
The sun was out and the racing action was gripping at The Curragh, and we even picked the winner of our own race!
The action got underway at 5.35pm JOE Handicap at 6.35pm and Shore Step [below, centre] was the deserved winner after breaking away early and staying strong despite a fierce pursuit in the closing stages.
Up next was the Her.ie Apprentice Derby at 7.10pm, which was claimed by the Jim Bolger-trained Dawn Hoofer. The 9/2 filly held off a challenge from Azzurri and Moktamel over the final furlong.
The feature race of the Friday evening card was undoubtedly the EBF 'Ragusa' Handicap which goes to post at 7.45. The 1 mile 4 furlong premier handicap saw top trainers Willie Mullins, Aidan O'Brien and Bolger lock horns.
We backed Change of Velocity for this one but it was Sea the Lion that was the deserving winner, and at 7/1 to keep those that backed the promising colt pleased. This was the closest finish of the evening but Sea the Lion pipped Gustavus Vassa to get the job done.
Lucius Tiberius claimed the Paddy Power Onside App Handicap, which set off at 8:20.
It was then time for the SportsJOE Maiden at 8.55pm. Kisanga was our choice to land the spoils and Dermot Weld's three-year-old did not disappoint.
The inexperienced filly had shown enough promise in Naas, just under a fortnight ago, to suggest she could take the fight to the colts and she did the business for Declan McDonagh in the final race of the day, beating National Security and National Wealth with some ease.