Saturday 15 December 2018

De Sousa partners 'Bee' as O'Brien's 'Lily' blooms

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: PA
Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: PA
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Silvestre De Sousa will be the man in the plate as Epsom Derby second Dee Ex Bee looks to go one better in Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Brazilian rider De Sousa was on board when Mark Johnston's colt found only Masar too good at Epsom and the trainer has again turned to the reigning British champion flat jockey after Dee Ex Bee was supplemented for the Classic on Tuesday.

William Buick was set to partner the Farhh colt but he will instead partner Godolphin's Old Persian after the Charlie Appleby-trained three-year-old was added to the €1.5 million showpiece following his victory in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

Dee Ex Bee is clear second favourite (7/2) as Johnston bids to continue his rich vein of form and land a first Irish Derby at the expense of Aidan O'Brien - seeking his 13th success with a team led by English 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior (4/7 favourite).

O'Brien warmed up for a busy weekend in fine style with a 46/1 double at Naas last night led by Easter Lily's surprise win in the Listed Oaks Trial.

Last seen when well beaten behind stablemate Flattering in the Munster Oaks, Wayne Lordan's mount (16/1) - without a victory in five previous starts this season - travelled smoothly to score by a length from Willie McCreery's Mary Tudor.

When asked if it was unexpected, Lordan said: "Not really, she works nicely at home and she's been running OK at Listed and Group Three level. They all have their turn and today was her turn.

"Today worked out well, as I was able to go down through them. She doesn't do a whole pile when she gets there, so going down through them was a big help."

The Irish Oaks is her likely next target while Donnacha O'Brien maintained his slim advantage at the head of the Irish flat jockeys' championship when guiding Secret Thoughts (7/4 joint-favourite) - also trained by his father - home by a head from Ger Lyons's Rita Levi (ridden by title rival Colin Keane) in the opening fillies maiden.

Meanwhile, five-time Group 1 winner Enable is back cantering as she builds up to an autumn return, which is planned to culminate in an attempt to retain the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

The daughter of Nathaniel has been on the easy list since early May having suffered a knee injury while preparing for Epsom's Coronation Cup.

"Enable is enjoying being out of the yard and seeing everything, and is doing one canter at the moment. All being well the plan is to give her one run before another crack at the Arc, but it's too early to say where that run will be yet," trainer John Gosden said.

Elsewhere, stablemate Cracksman is being given time to recover from his shock defeat - when 2/5 favourite - in the Prince of Wales's Stakes as connections try to dissect his display at Royal Ascot.

The champion middle-distance performer was expected to blow the field away but never appeared comfortable as he went down fighting to Michael Stoute's Poet's Word by two and a quarter lengths.

"It's very complicated sometimes, because the time was quite fast if you talk to the sectional-timing people. We're not quite sure," owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer said. "We have absolutely no future plans until we are confident he's up to his top ability. He is very well and in about two weeks' time we'll have a pretty good idea."

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