A prize fund of 70,000 euro will be up for grabs in the Specsavers Ulster Derby — Northern Ireland’s richest Flat race — at Down Royal on Saturday, June 19.
Down Royal manager Mike Todd said: “The three-day Summer Festival of Racing is a terrific social event and the Specsavers 2 for 1 Derby on the Saturday is the highlight of the weekend.
“We are delighted to have Specsavers on board again this year and will be offering the first 241 racegoers through the door on Derby day 2 for 1 entry.
“Last year’s Specsavers 2 for 1 Derby was won by Changingoftheguard, ridden by jockey Colm |O’Donoghue. This year’s race is shaping up to be even more exciting, as we will have an even higher calibre of runners and riders on the day.”
Details of the horseracing extravaganza were launched in spectacular style by models Alison Campbell and Fínola Guinnane alongside jockeys Padraig Beggy and Chris Geoghan.
The event is the highlight of the fashion and racing calendar in Northern Ireland and this year will be giving racegoers the chance to win its biggest prize yet — a trip to New York Fashion Week.
Specsavers will be searching for the Most Spectacularly Dressed racegoer on the day with the prize a money-cant-buy-trip to the Big Apple including return flights from Belfast to New York, a three-night stay at a stylish Manhattan hotel, spa treatments plus tickets to a fashion show at New York Fashion Week.
Specsavers NI chairman Tony McGinn said: “The Specsavers 2 for 1 Derby is a great day out for everyone and full of stunning fashionable racegoers.”
Meanwhile, long-term favourite St Nicholas Abbey and Midas Touch could be the only Ballydoyle contenders to line up for the English Derby on Saturday week as champion trainer Aidan O'Brien awaits a final decision from the Coolmore partners.
John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith haven't decided whether they wish to add a couple of the four other colts in O'Brien's care to the field for the Epsom Classic that's proved elusive for their runners in recent seasons. Most relevant at this stage among that quartet are Sunday's fluent Gallinule Stakes scorer Jan Vermeer and Dante Stakes victor Cape Blanco, either of which could head instead to the French Derby the following afternoon.
Jan Vermeer has been proving much more popular with ante-post punters for Epsom since his weekend romp at The Curragh than the stamina-suspect Cape Blanco, whose impressive return at York hinted toward the French trip.
It's an enviable dilemma though for big-spending joint owners Magnier, Tabor and Smith, despite the rare enough experience of losing out with their Ballydoyle inmates on the new season's mile Classics at home, in England and France. Even at this juncture it appears they will hold the strongest hand for the English and French Derbies if, as is generally expected, they split up these four high-class horses.
Stewards' inquiries will be broadcast live for the first time at this year's Investec Derby meeting at Epsom.
The BBC are covering the two-day Classic fixture, which begins tomorrow week, and their cameras will allow the public to see the crucial workings of racing's referees. As part of the Racing For Change campaign, inquiries will be shown on a trial basis.