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Derby primed to deliver good dose of drama

Despite heavy ground this time last year, the powers of Coolmore and Ballydoyle went against the odds and decided to let Camelot take his chance in the Irish Derby, and the English 2,000 Guineas and Derby winner prevailed in the most testing of conditions.

The prospect of Camelot emulating Nijinsky had everyone talking last year and undoubtedly helped swell the crowd along with the race moving to a Saturday evening.

The last Saturday evening of June has again been dedicated to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, and the Epsom Derby winner is again set to compete for the difficult double.

However, there is genuine excitement leading into this year's Derby like there hasn't been for some years.

Not only is Ruler Of The World on target as the Epsom hero but, unlike previous years, the 2013 Irish Derby looks competitive.

It's terrible to think that the premier race on the Irish calendar would be anything else, but for the last few years it has been farmed by Aidan O'Brien with little in the way of opposition, especially in 2009, when Sea The Stars was ruled out as a result of the ground conditions.

That isn't O'Brien's fault, and English trainers are often guilty of overlooking the race and its valuable prize pool, but that's certainly not the case this year.

Last week, Sheikh Mohammed forked out a sizeable sum to buy Epsom runner-up Libertarian (pictured).

This week, he handed over €200,000 to supplement Libertarian and pacemaker Cap O'Rushes, and it's great to see such a powerful owner take the Irish Derby so seriously.

Cases can be made for many, and the fact that a strong case can only be made for one Ballydoyle runner is refreshing.

A fine weather forecast is a bonus and the Irish Derby is, thankfully, becoming a major date in the diary once again.

I would be surprised if the 2013 renewal isn't one that will be remembered for many years to come.


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