Thursday 24 October 2019

Much to learn from trial

Aidan O’Brien has won the Derrinstown 11 times. Photo: PA
Aidan O’Brien has won the Derrinstown 11 times. Photo: PA

Daragh Ó Conchúir

The Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial is the feature of the three Group 3 contests at Leopardstown today, and though it is a decade since the winner actually went on to add a Derby to his CV, it remains a good test of credentials.

Fame And Glory followed up Derrinstown success in the Irish Derby in 2009. Prior to that, other Aidan O'Brien charges to enjoy Derby triumphs were Dylan Thomas (Irish 2006), High Chaparral (the last Derrinstown victor to claim Epsom honours in 2002, before completing the Curragh double) and Galileo (another Derby double winner in 2001).

The noughties truly were glorious years for the Derrinstown, John Oxx also using it as a stepping stone for Sinndar to complete the Derby double in 2000 and Alamshar to garner the Irish version three years later.

O'Brien has won the Derrinstown 11 times and is represented in the seven-runner field by Broome, Sovereign and Blenheim Palace.

Broome will be the primary candidate, having relished the step up to 10 furlongs with an eight-length cruise in the Ballysax Stakes, with Sovereign the best of the rest.

"The plan at the start of the season was always for Broome to go to Leopardstown for the Ballysax Stakes and then back for the Derrinstown Stakes," O'Brien said.

"We've been very happy with him since the Ballysax. Broome has always been a lovely, laid-back horse and he seems to be in good form since his last run so we're looking forward to running him again at Leopardstown."

High Chaparral, Galileo and Fame And Glory all took in the Ballysax prior to returning to Leopardstown for the Derrinstown, while future Cup king Yeats also took that route.

Champion jockey Donnacha O'Brien, who is operating at just above a 30 per cent strike rate in Ireland this season and propelled Magna Grecia to English 2000 Guineas success eight days ago, will be doing the steering.

His brother Joseph is represented by an intriguing contender in Buckhurst, owned like last year's Irish Derby hero Latrobe by Lloyd Williams.

The son of Australia didn't run as a two-year-old so, despite winning his maiden at this venue last month, is very inexperienced.

"We want to give him every chance of being an English Derby horse so he'll go to the Derrinstown and we'll take it from there with him but he's in good form at home," said O'Brien Jnr, and the likelihood is that there will be much better to come from Buckhurst as the season unfolds.

Wayne Lordan, fresh from his Newmarket 1000 Guineas triumph on Hermosa last Sunday, will be in the plate.

Dermot Weld is a nine-time winner of the contest and he is represented Rakan, who will have Chris Hayes on board.

Last year's Derrinstown victor Hazapour is the more fancied of the Weld-Aga Khan duo in the Comer Group International Amethyst Stakes and with in-form apprentice Oisín Orr on board, is the one to beat.

The Fozzy Stack-trained Zihba bids to make it two in a row, while Jim Bolger's Verbal Dexterity showed enough on his seasonal reappearance last month to suggest that he might retain the talent that made him such an exciting prospect as a juvenile two years ago.

The Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial is notable in that while the O'Briens, Weld, Jim Bolger, Jessica Harrington and Michael Halford are represented, nine trainers provide the 10 combatants.

The presence of Beau Warrior (trained by Ado McGuinness), Dean Street Doll (Richard O'Brien), Mia Mento (Tom Mullins) and Lady Wannabe (Stack) provides a very welcome depth in a race of this calibre and it is a wide-open affair.

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