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Crossfirehurricane on cue for Curragh blast


Crossfirehurricane has stepped up in distance and class with every victory

Crossfirehurricane has stepped up in distance and class with every victory

Crossfirehurricane has stepped up in distance and class with every victory

It's 43 years since there has been an Irish Derby field as large as the 15 runners which vie for glory in this evening's Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Classic (7.15) but there's a familiar theme with the O'Brien family aiming for total domination at the Curragh.

With father Aidan responsible for six, his eldest son Joseph running a trio and youngest son Donnacha saddling a sole charge, the O'Brien dynasty oversees 10 contenders, which is sure to be a regular occurrence in prestigious races for some time.

It stacks the deck against the rest but Jim Bolger, the red-hot Jessica Harrington, recent Classic winner Ger Lyons, Andrew Slattery and Emmet Mullins have all stood up to the test with a runner apiece, although the quintet face an unenviable task.

O'Brien Snr is bidding for his 14th Irish Derby win having monopolised the 1m4f Classic in recent years with Royal Ascot scorer Santiago leading his charge under Seamie Heffernan.

The son of Authorized dazzled in his Queen's Vase success last week and stamina is guaranteed, although he could get caught for pace while stablemate Arthur's Kingdom also makes a swift reappearance after his fine second in the King Edward VII Stakes.

Iberia and Dawn Patrol are both high in the betting for the Ballydoyle maestro but given Pádraig Beggy's front-running masterclass aboard Sovereign last year, it would be foolish to totally rule out Order Of Australia.

Having hung up his saddle last year, Donnacha O'Brien saddles Sherpa but he must improve considerably on his third in the Group Three Gallinule Stakes here two weeks ago and that race may provide the key.

Crossfirehurricane was dominant on that occasion and Joseph O'Brien's charge may be the one to side with having progressed through the ranks and maintained his unbeaten streak after four races, stepping up in distance and class with every victory.

Ten furlongs was no issue last time out and the strong-travelling Kitten's Joy colt should have plenty more in the locker on what could be a red-letter day in the career of 18-year-old Tipperary jockey Shane Crosse.

New York Girl should not be discounted for the Kilkenny trainer either as the daughter of New Approach bids to become the first filly to win the Curragh Classic since Balanchine's memorable success 26 years ago.

Declan McDonogh's mount could run into a place in conditions which she should thrive in having been supplemented at a cost of €50,000 following her Irish 1,000 Guineas fourth.

One of the Derby sub-plots unrelated to the O'Brien contingent is the presence of top jumps jockey Rachael Blackmore. The 30-year-old will become the third female to ride in an Irish Classic - after Joanna Morgan and Ana O'Brien - having landed her first Flat stakes success recently aboard Mullins' Oriental Eagle in Limerick's Listed Martin Molony Stakes.

Five-race maiden King Of The Throne will be up against it, however, with Crossfirehurricane set to keep his perfect record in tact and come out on top in the O'Brien-dominated affair.

A stellar card also sees Aidan O'Brien's Sir Dragonet - winless in over a year and beaten favourite on four of his last five runs - go for the Alleged Stakes (4.45) having been left with too much to do at Ascot last week.

Heffernan's mount is taken on with Joseph O'Brien's Buckhurst, however. Wayne Lordan's mount is already a two-time winner at this grade and the teak tough four-year-old should strip fitter for his reappearance when just touched off in a Listed event.

The Listed GAIN First Flier Stakes (6.45) could see Jack Davison's Mooneista (e/w) belie her odds having improved greatly for her debut run behind Lyons' re-opposing Frenetic at Navan and Ronan Whelan's mount is the value bet at the odds.

The Group Three Vintage Crop Stakes (7.45) sees Luke Comer trying to plunder the race he sponsors with Belsanndi and Giuseppe Garibaldi as last year's Derby winner Sovereign makes his much-belated return.

A year off is likely to hurt his cause, though, with the race-fit Twilight Payment the most likely to take advantage while Harrington can continue her winning run with Ancient Spirit in the Listed Celebration Stakes (5.45).