Irish Derby Preview: The statistics point to O’Brien
The statistics are overwhelming. He has recorded a total of 10 wins in the race, won it nine times in the last 13 years, including seven of the last eight renewals. Additionally he has sent out the first, second and third in the race three times in the last seven years.
Its obvious Aidan O’Brien has a significant attachment to the Irish Derby, his commitment to the oldest of the five Irish Classics a central part of the race in recent years.
This year seven will line up with O’Brien saddling four, his Epsom hero Australia plus Orchestra, Geoffrey Chaucer and Kingfisher in a bid for an 11th success.
In Australia, O’Brien’s chances are glaring. The son of Galileo out of the Oaks heroine Ouija Board came with a tall reputation and was hailed as the best he had ever trained by O’Brien, following his eye-catching third in the 2000 Guineas.
Having finished a neck second on debut at the Curragh, Australia obliged on his second start winning over seven furlongs at the County Kildare track. The colt ended the season in emphatic fashion running out a six-length winner of a Group 3 at Leopardstown.
He began this season with an reassuring effort in the 2000 Guineas finishing third, beaten just under a length and then created history by giving the Ballydoyle handler his third successive Investec Derby at Epsom earlier this month, in what looked a strong renewal of the Group 1. Despite doubts whether the deluge of rain that day would blunt his natural speed, Australia travelled supremely throughout the race and the manner of his victory advertised Australia as a star.
Understandably dual-Derby winners are a rare breed with only four in the last 20 years, and the colt will be bidding to join a list of high class names which include Camelot, High Chaparral, Galileo and Sinndar by completing the Derby double – only three horses in the past 10 years have even attempted both, but two of the three have followed success at Epsom by finishing first and second in the Irish equivalent. Epsom glory may have been his destiny but he looks to contain all the necessary attributes to thrive in the Curragh Classic also.
Orchestra brings Chester Vase winning form to the table, a race that has provided two winners and a second from four horses that have attempted both. Similar to stable mate Geoffrey Chaucer, he ran no sort of race at Epsom. Both Epsom and the Curragh as racetracks could not be more different, and given the fact that Romsdal who finished second to him at Chester, ran a fine race to finish third at Epsom, on this more suitable track he may put in a far better performance.
Geoffrey Chaucer went to Epsom with an adequate chunk of confidence behind him following his unlucky third in Derrinstown Stud trial at Leopardstown. Partnered by Ryan Moore despite being sent off as one of the market leaders, he finished a disappointing last at Epsom, having been virtually pulled up three furlongs from the finish. The son of Montjeu obviously failed to fire, although he wouldn’t want to see any of the forecast rain with his best form coming on good to firm ground.
Kingfisher fared best of the O’Brien contingent at Epsom bar Australia, but on a more traditional track like the Curragh, he may struggle to uphold that form.
This is not a race for surprises with favourites having won four of last 10 renewals, plus eight of the last 11 winners came from first two in the market. Kingston Hill currently sits second in the market and having finished second behind Australia at Epsom, rates the biggest danger to the odds-on favourite.
Trained by Roger Varian the son of Mastercraftsman has gained all his three wins with soft somewhere in the going description and the trainer has made clear that he would be very reluctant to run him on fast ground.
Having finished a disappointing eighth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on quicker ground, he bounced right back to form chasing home Australia at Epsom in the style of a decent sort. He will be bidding to bring what has been a 20-year drought of success for British raiders in this race, but any rainfall would aid his chances.
Fascinating Rock looked to hold good credentials heading to Epsom and ran a solid race to finish midfield. Awarded the Derrinstown Stud Trail in the steward’s room, the son of Fastnet Rock was a winner first time out this season and followed up with victory in the Ballysax at Navan. He blatantly failed to handle to the track at Epsom and found himself in all sorts of trouble as a result but his connections are hopeful that he can leave that form behind back on a more suitable track like the Curragh.
The Irish Derby is a race steeped in history and with the 148th running fast approaching, as things stand it is an alluring contest.
Joseph Smyth 27/06/14
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