All eyes will be on the Curragh on Saturday for the 2021 Irish Derby as 11 runners head to post in what looks set to be a competitive renewal. To get in the mood for the big race, we’ve taken a look back at five of the best Irish Derby winners which include some legends of the sport.
5 best Irish Derby winners
He may be infamous for his disappearance in 1983 but Shergar should be best be remembered for his three-year-old season in 1981 that saw him win five of his six races, including the Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby.
Having decimated the field at Epsom by a record-breaking ten lengths, Shergar headed to the Curragh looking to land the ‘Derby Double’. With Lester Piggott standing in for a suspended Walter Swinburn, Shergar put in another stunning performance to run out a four-length winner despite slowing down close to the line.
It was fitting return to his country of birth but sadly Shergar’s next visit to Ireland would not end in such happy circumstances.
There may have only been six runners in the 1991 Irish Derby but it brought together the two outstanding three-year-olds of the season, Generous and Suave Dancer, the first of whom is among the best Irish Derby winner sever for his performance.
Generous had landed the Epsom Derby by seven lengths while four days earlier Suave Dancer had impressively won the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
The duo dominated the betting at the Curragh and they also dominated the race and battled it out up the straight with Generous proving his stamina to take the victory by three lengths.
St Jovite (1992)
One year after Generous and Suave Dancer had fought it out, the Curragh hosted another duel as St Jovite and Dr Devious renewed their rivalry.
Dr Devious had taken the glory at Epsom with St Jovite in 2nd but at the Curragh, the tables were well and truly turned as St Jovite reversed the form by a stunning 12 lengths in a time that is still a record for the race.
Another horse who landed the Derby double at Epsom and the Curragh, Sinndar also became the fourth Irish Derby winner for the Aga Khan when landing the race in 2000 and, in doing so, one of the best Irish Derby winners ever.
After winning the Epsom classic by a length, Sinndar destroyed a high-class field at the Curragh by a staggering nine lengths under Johnny Murtagh, also pocketing a $1 million bonus from the race sponsors for winning both the English and Irish Derbies.
Sinndar rounded off the season, and his race career, with victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, becoming the first horse in history to win the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, and Arc.
Galileo arrived at the Curragh on the back of four straight career victories, including the Epsom Derby where Timeform had rated him the best Derby winner for ten years.
It was more of the same at the Curragh as Galileo gave jockey Mick Kinane his first Irish Derby success at the age of 42, coasting home by four lengths over his rivals including Golan and Vinnie Roe.
He was retired in the Autumn of 2001 and has since become the leading stallion in the world – fathering four Irish Derby winners, and being a grandsire to a fifth.
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