Annus Mirabilis can live up to true potential for O'Brien
A Derby festival that will hopefully showcase a mouth-watering rematch between the first two home at Epsom tomorrow gets under way with a competitive card at the Curragh tonight.
Aidan O'Brien unleashes eight of his Ballydoyle battalion on the opening salvo, though it wouldn't be the greatest surprise if he had to wait until the last race to get off the mark.
He saddles a Galileo newcomer called Bazaar in the Hanlon Concrete EBF-sponsored contest, but it is the once-raced Annus Mirabilis that is the choice of his champion jockey son Joseph.
While the Montjeu colt sports blinkers, he had a visor on when he made his debut here a month ago, and he ran with plenty encouragement that day when fifth behind stable-mate Table Rock.
It was hardly the best maiden that will be run at headquarters in 2014, but Annus Mirabilis ran in snatches before keeping on, so the suspicion is that he will improve plenty. As a three-parts brother to last year's Epsom hero Ruler Of The World and a half-brother to the five-time Group One winner Duke Of Marmalade, he is certainly bred to do much better.
The main danger to the nap selection is doubtless the John Oxx-trained Streetcar To Stars.
A three-parts brother to Ballydoyle's 2010 Derrinstown Stud Derby trial winner Midas Touch that is by Sea The Stars, Streetcar To Stars just failed to reel in Roheryn in a Listed race over 12 furlongs on its Leopardstown reappearance.
Declan McDonogh's mount clearly has plenty potential, but the concern would be that the drop to 10 furlongs here may not suit.
In the three-year-olds' mile maiden, it is interesting to see Colm O'Donoghue sport the Aga Khan silks for Oxx aboard Shorana, a half-brother to the smart Sharestan.
O'Donoghue was believed to be under consideration for the Aga Khan gig after Johnny Murtagh was sacked in 2012, a position that was awarded to McDonogh before he lost the retainership last year.
McDonogh is aboard Oxx's Marco Valade-owned debutant Rightway instead, though both are passed over in favour of Salute Of Approval.
David Wachman's Acclamation colt was a respectable second to the more experienced Kingfisher on its only outing at Killarney in 2013. If he can step forward from that under Wayne Lordan now, he could have a big say.
Oxx and the Aga Khan get the nod to take the Done Deal Apprentices' Derby with Karezak, which has the excellent reigning champion apprentice Connor King up.
On stepping up in trip this year, Karezak has finished a commendable second to John Constable and Fog Of War respectively on his only two starts, and he makes his handicap bow here off a fair-looking 85.
Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen could take the handicaps either side of the young riders' feature.
The return to a mile on a decent surface makes Jayed Jidan appealing in the €50,000 premier event, while Nonchalant is fancied in the Silken Thomas heat over 10 furlongs, having run a fine second to the Derby-bound Ponfeigh over an inadequate mile at Navan.