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Your #1 Guide to the Irish Derby

The Irish Derby is held at Curragh Racecourse only three weeks after the running of the Epsom Derby in England. It is considered to be the most important Irish Classic of the season and is the second leg of the Irish Triple Crown. Keep reading to find out how to find the next winner.

The Top Irish Flat Race
of the Year

Typically held during the last week of June or first week of July, this Irish Classic Flat race is open to three-year-old horses of both genders that qualify. It is held on the right-handed flat course at Curragh. The race itself extends over a mile and a half requiring the horses to turn right along the horse-shoe shaped track. A weight requirement of 9 stones applies to colts, and fillies must carry 8st-11lbs.

fact file

location: Curragh Racecourse

grade: Group 1

race type: Flat

Honour Roll for the Irish Derby

The Irish Derby was introduced in 1866. Originally, the distance was a mile and six furlongs until 1872 when the current distance of one mile and four furlongs was established.

The Irish Derby was the third attempt at establishing a national derby event at the Curragh racecourse, which also hosts the Irish Oaks. The first version, known as the O'Darby Stakes, was run from 1817 to 1824 and was followed by the brief introduction of the Curragh Derby in 1848.

For almost 100 years the Irish Derby was very much a local event, although it occasionally featured English contestants. It was only in 1962 that the Irish Derby turned into an internationally followed and contested event. The main man to thank for the evolution of the Irish Derby is one Joe McGrath.

This racing personality, who founded the Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake, decided it would be a good idea to combine the Irish Derby with the sweepstake, thus turning it into the Irish Sweeps Derby. This new version of the race was a lot more valuable than the previous events and quickly attained immense popularity, thus raising the profile of Irish racing greatly.


While it is not possible for a horse to win more than once, jockeys and trainers compete for the honour of holding the record for most wins. Below are some of the top-records for the Irish Derby (as of 2017).

  • St Jovite won the 1992 Irish Derby with a record time of 2 minutes and 25.6 seconds.

  • The largest field on record amounted to 24 thoroughbreds in 1962. The smallest was two back in 1868.

  • The longest-priced winner was 50/1 shot Zarathustra in 1954, and the shortest-priced winner was 1/10 favourite Orby in 1907.

  • The most successful trainer is Aidan O'Brien who won 12 times from Desert King in 1997 to Capri in 2017.

  • The most successful jockey is Morny Wing who won six times from Ballyheron in 1921 to Bright News in 1946.

Best Moments

Particularly in the past century, the Irish Derby has enjoyed a similar amount of prestige as its English counterpart attracting top-talent from around the world (as of 2017).

jockey racing horse
  • Sinndar won the 2000 Irish Derby after winning the Epsom Derby making him one of the few to have done so. In addition, he was awarded the 1 Million Millennium Bonus for winning both races which made for an especially memorable year.

  • Since the establishment of the Irish Derby, only 18 competitors can claim to have won both the English and Irish versions of the race.