Monday 20 May 2019

'Bee' set to burst O'Brien's bubble in sub-par Derby

Mark Johnston: trains Dee Ex Bee
Mark Johnston: trains Dee Ex Bee
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

With all the razzmatazz surrounding Kildare's All-Ireland SFC qualifier tie against Mayo in St Conleth's Park, Newbridge, this evening, it's easy to forget that just ten minutes down the road the biggest prize in Irish racing will be contested at the Curragh.

It doesn't help that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (5.15) collides with one of the most talked-about GAA conflicts in recent memory, but even without that clash, it doesn't set the pulses racing as it should.

Saxon Warrior's Triple Crown dreams went up in smoke at Epsom earlier this month and Aidan O'Brien's star three-year-old heads a field of 12, which has been saved somewhat by the supplementation of English pair Dee Ex Bee and Old Persian.

Otherwise, O'Brien would be chasing a remarkable 13th success in the Irish Classic with Saxon Warrior unlikely to break a sweat en route to landing the €1.5million prize, but instead O'Brien's star faces a stern examination.

Outstanding when taking the English 2,000 Guineas, the son of Deep Impact never looked comfortable when tackling Epsom's unique undulations - he came home fourth behind Masar when 4/5 favourite - and bids to bounce back on a flat track, which should be more to his liking.

He has three lengths to find on Mark Johnston's Dee Ex Bee, however, and with Johnston hopeful that the Epsom Derby second will also be suited by conditions, an odds-on Saxon Warrior (8/11 favourite) represents little or no value for punters in the 1m4f showpiece.

Maybe, he will show the class that saw him scorch to success at Newmarket, but you're playing at prohibitive odds to find out and Johnston's charge could have his number again, especially if it turns into a battle.

The son of Farhh looked a spent force with two furlongs to travel at Epsom but battled back gamely and if he doesn't let Saxon Warrior get first run, he could be the one to burst O'Brien's bubble with the Ballydoyle maestro having won seven of the last ten runnings.

Only one winner in the last ten renewals has been priced bigger than 6/1 (O'Brien's 16/1 shot Frozen Fire in 2008) - five of the last nine winners have been odds-on shots - so the 7/2 about Dee Ex Bee looks attractive in the hands of British champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa.

There doesn't look to be too many springers that could improve enough to cause a major shock but Michael Halford's Platinum Warrior probably isn't the worst 25/1 shot having booked his place with a decent win in the Group Three Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh last month.

Joseph O'Brien's Latrobe was back in second that day and would have to improve by at least a stone to take this with his brother Donnacha in the plate as his trainer bids for a first victory in a race which he has won twice as a jockey (Camelot in 2012 and Australia in 2014).

The Group Two GAIN Railway Stakes (4.35) is a decent appetiser with Mick Channon (Certain Lad) and Johnston (Marie's Diamond) both bidding to bring the prize back across the Irish Sea.

No favourite has prevailed in the last eight runnings - no winner has been priced over 7/1 in the last ten years - and O'Brien may hold the key among his trio.

Ryan Moore opts for Windsor Castle Stakes fourth Van Beethoven over Norfolk Stakes third Land Force, but that may be a mistake as that was the best run of his career when pushing Wesley Ward's Shang Shang Shang close and Donnacha O'Brien may be the benefactor.

While the Derby loses some of its lustre as Masar instead opts for next week's Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, Epsom Oaks heroine Forever Together brings star power for O'Brien in tomorrow's Group One Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes (4.40).

The daughter of Galileo looks a cut above her five rivals providing she shows no ill effects for that outstanding effort but the most likely candidate to cause her trouble may be stablemate Bye Bye Baby, which chased her home in third at Epsom.

Fresh from Royal Ascot success last week - Gordon Elliott's second winner at the Royal meeting - Pallasator makes a quick return to action in the Group Two Comer Group International Curragh Cup (5.15).

Conditions may not be in the nine-year-old's favour,however, as he gives weight to his younger rivals and O'Brien's improving three-year-old Giuseppe Garibaldi may be the one to benefit most, receiving 14lbs.

Seamie Heffernan's mount is in fine form following his third behind Charlie Appleby's Old Persian in the King Edward VII Stakes last week and there may be more to come.

So Perfect didn't quite live up to her name in Ascot's Queen Mary Stakes when coming home fourth but that form is easily the best available in the Group Three Grangecon Stud Stakes (2.55) and Moore's mount should oblige.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing - Where Leinster went wrong, Saracens power and looking ahead to RDS showdown

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport