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Battle of the O’Briens at the Curragh as father and sons set for classic Irish Derby clash with €1m prize pot on offer


Joseph O'Brien will go head to head with his father Aidan at Saturday's Irish Derby

Joseph O'Brien will go head to head with his father Aidan at Saturday's Irish Derby

Joseph O'Brien will go head to head with his father Aidan at Saturday's Irish Derby

Derby and Oaks form will be put to the test at the Curragh on Saturday as Tuesday and Westover engage in a mouthwatering clash for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

But there’s also a battle of the O’Briens to look forward to as trainers Aidan and sons Joseph and Donnacha go head to head.

Aidan O'Brien's Tuesday bids to become only the third filly since the turn of the century to beat the boys in Ireland's premier Classic, with Salsabil triumphing in 1990 and Balanchine striking gold four years later under Frankie Dettori.

Still a maiden in the winter, Tuesday got off the mark at Naas in March before being placed in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

Having successfully stepped up in trip when getting the better of Emily Upjohn in an Oaks blockbuster at Epsom three weeks ago, Tuesday now bids to provide O'Brien with a 15th Irish Derby success.

"She hasn't done an awful lot since Epsom, but we've been happy with everything she has done," Aidan said. "We were delighted with her at Epsom."

When asked about the forecast rain over the weekend, he added: "She should be fine, she has run with an ease in the ground before so we don't think it will be an issue."

Joseph’s Hannibal Barca is not without its claims after winning the Gallinule Stakes on his first outing since leaving Brian Meehan, while Donnacha's Piz Badile is a more outside bet.

"Hannibal Barca has trained really well and he's entitled to have a go at the race. It looks like it will be a proper race and we are looking forward to it," said Joseph.

"It looks great racing all weekend."

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Ryan Moore will again be on board Tuesday and told Betfair she is the one to beat.

"I think she just about brings the best form to the table here so, with her 3lb sex allowance added in, she clearly has a very strong chance," said Moore.

"She had the speed to be placed in two Guineas and she did exceptionally well to win a strong Oaks last time, edging out Emily Upjohn, with the French Oaks winner Nashwa some way behind in third, even if she probably didn't see out the trip fully.

"Of course, you have to greatly respect the likes of Derby third Westover, who is the obvious and considerable danger, and I also liked Lionel's win at Goodwood, but my filly looks to hold a favourite's chance."

Earlier in the week a lot of column inches were taken up by the decision of owners Juddmonte to replace Rob Hornby, who had ridden the Ralph Beckett-trained Westover to finish third in the Derby, with Irish champion jockey Colin Keane.

Unsurprisingly, while sympathising with Hornby, Keane was delighted to get the mount.

"I'm very thankful to Juddmonte for putting me up. It's obviously unfortunate for Rob Hornby, but it's a brilliant spare ride to pick up," he said.

"When you look back at the replay (of Epsom), he was the horse that caught your eye (with) the way he finished and usually the Epsom form holds up in the Curragh. A more galloping track might suit him.

"He looks like a very straightforward horse and I'm very much looking forward to him."

Barry Mahon, Juddmonte's general manager of Ireland and European racing, said: "In fairness he was very unlucky at Epsom. He drew stall two and I don't think that stall has produced a Derby winner since they started using stalls.

"We tossed up whether we'd run him in the Dante or not and in fairness to Prince Khalid's family they said, 'you've won a Derby trial, why do you need to run him in the Dante? Have a bit of faith and go straight to the Derby' and he ran a cracking race.

"He would definitely be entitled to improve a bit and it's great the family are letting us bring him over to Ireland. There's a big operation here and for all the staff here who looked after him when he was a yearling and a weanling and broke him in and started riding him before he went over to Ralph Beckett's, they're all excited too.

"It's great for the Irish Derby to have a horse like him coming over."

David Menuisier is hoping the forecast rain arrives for Lionel, a Listed winner at Goodwood last time out.

"He's absolutely grand, we've been pleased with the way he's strengthened since Goodwood. All the lights are green, we have our fingers crossed for a good run," said Menuisier.

"He went for a racecourse gallop last weekend at Kempton, all was well and that was his final real piece of work.

"In my heart he always was one of the leading contenders, a lot of things are going his way so let's hope for a truly-run race and the best horse will win."

The big race itself is one of 24 races taking place over the three-day festival which will see a total of €2.4m in prize money on offer. The winner will claim a bumper €580,000 for connections out of a total prize pot worth €1m in front of a first full house at the event since 2019 due to the pandemic.

Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (3.45)

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