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O'Brien faces tougher challenge


Galileo Rock ridden by jockey Wayne Lordan. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

Galileo Rock ridden by jockey Wayne Lordan. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

Galileo Rock ridden by jockey Wayne Lordan. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

ASIDE from the Ballydoyle/Coolmore axis, another major winner out of last Saturday's Epsom Derby would appear to be the Curragh Racecourse.

It's less than a month now until their seasonal highlight takes place and Aidan O'Brien goes in search of an eighth consecutive win in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and an 11th overall.

There is no doubt that seeing the one trainer winning the biggest race of the year eight times in a row is quite boring to the average racegoer. But, by the same token, it is equally impressive that a man can produce the goods so consistently, and it's not O'Brien's fault that others don't take up the open invite of a place in the race.

However, O'Brien's continued quest for dominance at HQ will, this year, be met with a bigger wall than in recent years.

In 2009, Sea The Stars appeared among the declarations, which looked like ending O'Brien's run at three in a row. But Sea The Stars was withdrawn due to unsuitable ground, O'Brien did a Kilkenny on it and won a fourth in a row, and, unlike Brian Cody's hurlers, Ballydoyle successfully completed the drive for five and haven't been beaten in the race since.

This month, however, it would appear that unlucky Epsom runner-up Libertarian will be supplemented by Elaine Burke, while David Wachman's third-placed Galileo Rock (pictured) is among the entries for the Irish Derby and that would look a natural stop for him.

However, more intriguingly again, Patrick Prendergast's Sugar Boy, the colt who defeated both Libertarian and Galileo Rock in the Classic Trial at Sandown earlier in the season, is being primed at the minute for the Curragh by his shrewd trainer and he adds real spice to the encounter.



Leopardstown on Friday is a possibility for a prep run for Sugar Boy, although the quick ground is likely to mean he goes straight to the Curragh at the end of the month.

Add in Trading Leather for Jim Bolger, who was only beaten five lengths in the Irish 2,000 Guineas when needing much further, and prior to that was a length and a half off Libertarian in the Dante when needing the run, and you already have four real live contenders and not a mention of a Ballydoyle resident among them.

It goes without saying that the Ballydoyle presence in the Irish Derby is going to be both plentiful in numbers and strong in quality.

Whether this is the route Ruler Of The World will go or not remains to be seen, but he is, naturally enough, the current favourite, while the somewhat unlucky Epsom runner Mars is not to be forgotten either.

There was great excitement around the inclusion of Camelot in last year's Irish Derby, but a wide open race which is not overflowing in Ballydoyle representatives is what this race badly craves and thankfully it looks like that may well be the case.