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Horse Racing: WAVE MACHINE; Gentle touch to spark French party.

Byline: LARRY LYNX on today's Irish Derby

THERE'S no doubting pounds 69,000 is a tidy sum, but it will seem like a splash in the Irish Sea if Gentlewave wins at the Curragh this afternoon.

Under the care of France's master trainer Andre Fabre, the colt was supplemented for that money for the Budweiser Irish Derby.

And you can bet a pound to a penny that champagne, rather than the sponsors' amber nectar will be flowing if Gentlewave lands his second Classic.

He was also supplemented for the Italian Derby in May three days before the race. And he duly turned the pounds 330,000 event into a procession, romping home by four lengths.

Today's race is a much tougher test, but this colt has improved tremendously - and Frenchtrained colts have a fine recent record here, having won the race three times from just six runners. That record certainly has a favourite's chance of being improved for the market leader is Darsi, owned by the Aga Khan and trained at Chantilly by Alain de Royer-Dupre.

Royer-Dupre was gaining his fifth French Derby when the colt broke the Chantilly 10 - furlong course record with a threequarters of a length victory over Best Name. The runner-up tries his luck again, but Darsi won a shade cosily and is fancied to confirm the form.

While the French raiders have enjoyed success, you have to go back 12 years to find the last English winner ... and that was Henry Cecil's Commander In Chief. Dragon Dancer, from Geoff Wragg's Newmarket stable, looks the best prospect of halting that losing run after improving out of all recognition when a 66-1 shot and failing by the shortest of short heads behind Sir Percy in the Epsom Derby last month.

Aidan O'Brien, as usual, will be the main hope for a home win and the Ballydoyle trainer is represented by Dylan Thomas, Mountain and Puerto Rico.

Dylan Thomas gets the thumbs up from stable jockey Kieren Fallon and the colt has a score to settle with Dragon Dancer, who was only a head in front of himat Epsom.

A win for Dragon Dancer or Dylan Thomas would certainly be a boost for the absent Sir Percy.

But I have to fancy Gentlewave (3.50) and Darsi to make it a one-two for France.

Dandy Man (2.05) should prove too smart for his rivals in the five-furlong King Of Beers Stakes.

Colm Collins's colt proved that his 25-1 win in the Group 3 Stan James Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in May was no fluke with a brilliant run at Royal Ascot last month.

The only three-year-old in the Group 2 King's Stand Stakes and drawn unfavourably wide, he was in front of his group on the far side and was beaten less than a length when fifth to Takeover Target.

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CHANTILLY PACE: Christophe Soumillon wins the French Derby on Darsi Picture: ANDY WATTS/Racingfotos.com
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 2, 2006
Words:491
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