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Horse Racing - Racing: Robbie Wilders' Irish Derby Festival Tips

The Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes headlines the final day of the Curragh’s Irish Derby meeting on Sunday. Racing Post tipster Robbie Wilders provides his four best bets.

Head Mistress
14:40 Curragh
1pt each-way

My Astra
15:45 Curragh @ 6/1
1pt win

Purplepay
15:45 Curragh @ 9/2
1pt win

Autumn Evening
16:20 Curragh
1pt each-way

Mistress can head the field

Ger Lyons is intriguingly throwing Head Mistress in at the deep end against older horses in the Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes Handicap over six furlongs.

The top trainer is hardly renowned for such bold campaigning and the decision can be rewarded in a competitive big-field sprint.

The lightly raced Head Mistress shaped as if needing her return in a hot Listed race behind stablemate Sacred Bridge and can be expected to improve for the experience.

Fourth home Brostaigh did her bit for the form by landing a Listed race and Group 2 on her next two outings and my selection should have plenty more to offer on her handicap debut off a mark of 96 receiving 7lb in weight-for-age.

Haggas set for Group 1 one-two

The Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes is as competitive a running as I can recall and there are at least five plausible winners.

While I suspect La Petite Coco may be the best filly in the field, this is a tough ask on her seasonal return. Last-time-out Group 1 heroine Dreamloper seems to have improved this campaign and Oaks fourth Concert Hall is bang in there as well.

However, I'm going to side with two William Haggas-trained fillies. Haggas is an outstanding 7-14 at a 50 per cent strike-rate with his runners in Ireland over the past five years and with the bulk of the rain expected in the lead up to Sunday's card, his pair My Astra and Purplepay will be in their element.

My Astra registered a Racing Post Rating (116) befitting of a Group 1 filly when routing her nearest rival by 12 lengths in an Ayr Listed race on soft ground last time and proved she belongs in this company.

That was a significant upgrade from her previous efforts, but we haven’t seen much of her and the family have an outstanding record.

The year-younger Purplepay, the pick of Tom Marquand, has graced the track more often and was set a stiff task on her first run for Haggas in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Quick ground was against her that day and she fared well in the circumstances to finish sixth to Homeless Songs. Purplepay showed the benefit of that reappearance when plundering a soft-ground Group 2 at Chantilly this month and the step up to 1m2f opens up further avenues for her.

A Haggas-trained one-two is not beyond the realms of possibility. 

Autumn to make your evening

Jessica Harrington enjoyed a winner at Royal Ascot last week with Magical Lagoon in the Ribblesdale Stakes and can savour another success at a big meeting with Autumn Evening in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF "Ragusa" Handicap.

This will be Autumn Evening's first Flat run since last October, but with the improvement he has made over hurdles since, I reckon he can transfer that to the Flat.

The five-year-old has progressed 14lb in that time over jumps and with just six starts in this sphere to his name, he could have something up his sleeve from the handicapper off a mark of 82.

He stays further than this 1m4f trip and the showers will aid his cause more than most in this line up.

By Robbie Wilders

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