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O'Brien bidding to take five

Aidan O'Brien will on Sunday bid to claim a fifth consecutive Irish Derby at the Curragh with the trainer responsible for five of the 11 entries that stood their ground at yesterday's five-day forfeit stage.

Among O'Brien's quintet is the installed favourite Jan Vermeer, who was 11-and-a-half lengths adrift of Workforce in the Epsom equivalent earlier this month.

O'Brien would have been responsible for half the field only for the supplementing of last week's Royal Ascot winner Monterosso, who could be sent out for a quick reappearance by trainer Mark Johnson.

Also among the Ballydoyle five are Cape Blanco, who ran no race in the Prix du Jockey Club in Chantilly last time, and At First Sight, who led the runners to the two furlong pole at Epsom but failed to fire at Royal Ascot last week.

Bright Horizon and Midas Touch complete the O'Brien possibilities and his former master, Jim Bolger, is double handed in the race with this season's unbeaten Puncher Clynch and Carraiglawn, who is another on an upward curve.

The former Bolger-trained Chabal represents Godolphin, while Dubawi Phantom completes the entries for David Simcock.

Boylesports make Jan Vermeer the 2/1 favourite, while he is a best-priced 11/4 with Paddy Power, and O'Brien's Cape Blanco is a best priced 9/2 with Boylesports ahead of the supplemented Monterosso, who is a 5/1 chance.


Also on Sunday's card is the often informative Group Two Railway Stakes, which O'Brien has won on no less than 11 occasions.

Only two other trainers have saddled the winner of this race since 1997 and among the juveniles to win this race for the Ballydoyle maestro were Rock Of Gibraltar, George Washington, Holy Roman Emperor and Mastercraftsman.

For Sunday's renewal O'Brien holds four entries out of a field of 15, all four of which ran without success at Royal Ascot last week.

Samuel Morse and Zoffany both lost unbeaten records behind Strong Suit in the Coventry Stakes, while Petronius Maximus is still a maiden but ran a blinder over five furlongs in the Windsor Castle Stakes. Emperor Hadrian was another to run over five furlongs in the Norfolk Stakes. Jim Bolger has left in Albany Stakes fourth Radharcnafarraige, and debutant Glor Na Mara, who is the only one engaged yet to see a racecourse competitively.


Dermot Weld's two of Moonlit Garden and Oor Jock are also just out of Royal Ascot while Longhunter, who was described by some shrewd experts as the best two-year-old in Kevin Prendergast's yard this season, is joined by stable companion Dunboyne Express.

The ground at the Curragh is currently being watered and was yesterday described as good on the straight course and good to firm on the round course by racecourse manager Paul Hensey.

It was news of the quick ground and no rain forecast that ruled Sariska out of the Pretty Polly Stakes on Saturday at HQ. Michael Bell confirmed that connections will now look at the Coral-Eclipse for the star filly, but again ground will play a major factor.

"As of this morning we have knocked the Pretty Polly on the head," said Bell.

"I've spoken to the clerk of the course this morning and there's absolutely no rain forecast. He's been watering as hard as he can but, given the temperatures there, there's every chance the ground won't be easier than good to firm.

"She's had a couple of races on good to firm this year already and we are keen not to go the well on that ground too often with her, bearing in mind her autumn targets."

Those autumn targets include the Arc, for which she is a best-priced 16/1, and the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare. Sponsors Coral make Sariska a 7/2 favourite for the Sandown race, which was won by Sea The Stars last year, while Betfair make her a 9/2 chance to make a shock appearance and win at the Curragh on Saturday.

IRish Derby -- Boylesports Bet: 2/1 Jan Vermeer 9/2 Cape Blanco 9/2 Midas Touch 5/1 Monterosso 10/1 Coordinated Cut 11/1 Chabal 12/1 At First Sight 20/1 Carraiglawn 20/1 Puncher Clynch 33/1 Dubawi Phantom 100/1 Bright Horizon