Sport

Friday 9 December 2016

Idaho attempts to enhance Aidan O'Brien's brilliant Derby record

Published 24/06/2016 | 18:56

Idaho
Idaho

Following the defection of Epsom runner-up US Army Ranger due to an unsatisfactory scope, Aidan O'Brien's main hope of landing a 12th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby is Idaho.

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The son of Galileo made the frame in the Ballysax and Derrinstown, and was beaten a shade under three lengths into third place behind Harzand in the Investec Derby on the Downs.

"You would have to say Idaho progressed very well, and I'm very happy with him since," said O'Brien.

"Epsom was on the soft side this year, more so than I have seen it for a long time.

"I was very impressed with Harzand. He's a very strong stayer, and a big, honest horse that puts his head out and gallops all the way to the line. We were delighted for Dermot (Weld), Pat (Smullen) and His Highness the Aga Khan and their whole operation.

"His Highness puts a lot into the sport and Dermot and Pat are very professional, proper people. Obviously we try hard to win every race but we know that can't be the way and at Epsom we were delighted for the connections of the winner. He is a very good horse."

O'Brien feels that while the track can play a big part in the result at Epsom, the Curragh gives a true reflection of a horse's genuine ability.

He said: "The Curragh suits every horse. It's a big, galloping straightforward track.

"There is nowhere to hide, and I don't remember many horses not handling the Curragh. Obviously Epsom can be tricky. It's a switch-back, up and down. It can be tricky and tactical, whereas the Curragh is usually very straightforward.

"The Irish Derby is so important because it's not tactical and it's pure ability. You have to get a mile and a half well, and they have to be very genuine. The Irish Derby is the vital test for a three-year-old, and it sets the standard for all the ratings."

Jim Bolger has won the Irish Derby twice and fires a twin assault in pursuit of the hat-trick.

Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial winner Moonlight Magic bids to bounce back from a disappointing display at Epsom, while Stellar Mass has won his last two starts, albeit at a lower level.

"Moonlight Magic probably didn't act on the track (at Epsom) and he seems to be in good form," said Bolger.

"I know he has to redeem himself somewhat, but I'd be optimistic that it will go much better for him on Saturday. He's in good shape.

"Stellar Mass runs as well and I'd be hoping he too will give a good account of himself."

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