No reason to oppose Ruler Of The World as O'Brien seeks his eighth Irish Derby on trot
At the second time of asking, the Irish Derby's experimental Saturday evening slot will be graced with a showpiece Group One that ought to go a long way toward revitalising the €1.25m Curragh Classic.
Camelot's virtuoso appearance last year represented the first time that the Epsom hero had tackled the Irish equivalent since 2004 and Aidan O'Brien has again come up trumps by giving Ruler Of The World the opportunity to emulate his elite stable's three previous winners of the premier three-year-old contest by following up here.
The Ballydoyle wizard is looking for a remarkable 11th success in the race – and an eighth on the spin – yet Ruler Of The World was widely available to back at evens or better last night.
Given that his sire Galileo and High Chaparral and Camelot were all sent off at long odds-on for the prestigious mile-and-a-half contest following their Epsom triumphs, that price is indicative of the quality of opposition that Joseph O'Brien's unbeaten mount faces tonight.
Elaine Burke's Libertarian, such a fast-finishing second in the Derby, leads the charge having been supplemented – along with delegated pace-maker Cap O'Rushes – at a cost of €100,000.
The Godolphin colt will be attempting to supply Sheikh Mohammed with his first Irish Derby win since Winged Love in 1995, as David Wachman and Wayne Lordan vie for their first success with Epsom third Galileo Rock.
Like Libertarian, Sugar Boy's next start is for a new stable after he was purchased by a cousin of Sheikh Mohammed, but Patrick Prendergast and Chris Hayes would say au revoir with a smile should he oblige here.
Jim Bolger's Trading Leather and John Oxx's Little White Cloud are others that add depth to the nine-runner affair, which promises to be a fittingly absorbing climax to a fantastic card.
Crucially, the prospect of a suitably quick racing surface adds further merit to proceedings, something that has doubtless helped to attract a bumper 18 British-based runners. Inevitably, though, such fiendish competition does nothing for the task of sourcing winners.
Jim Bolger's dual runner-up Intensified sets the standard after a narrow defeat to War Command at Leopardstown, which reads well in light of the Ballydoyle colt's Ascot rout. Dove Mountain looks modest, so well-bred newcomer Trikala is one to watch in the market.
Verdict: Intensified is impossible to oppose on track form.
Flashy Approach made a fine impression on its Gowran Park bow, though he will need to step up markedly on that to figure here. There is little to choose between many of the more exposed contenders, with Elleval and Count Of Limonade possibly the best three-year-olds.
Count Of Limonade has run out of puff over 10 furlongs on his last two starts, so this return to a mile could suit. Caponata is also smart, though she may prefer more of a cut in the ground.
Verdict: Count Of Limonade can make the most of the drop back in trip.
Slipper Orchid will relish reverting to seven furlongs, having just got collared when chasing a hat-trick over a mile at Limerick. She is three from four this term over the trip.
Maiden winners Akira and Tropical Mist – first and second respectively at Gowran Park in May – are of interest, with the last-named now four pounds better off.
There is a myriad of others with chances, Queen Of The Sand possibly one to note after finishing a game second to Zalty at Leopardstown.
Verdict: Tropical Mist has an each-way chance for the shrewd George Kent stable.
Burn The Boats is interesting on this switch back to six furlongs. He is lightly raced, ran well here over a mile last time and has the potential benefit of a high draw.
Via Ballycroy collected for a third time in four starts when winning here last time, and she remains progressive, likewise fellow course winner Royal Empress. Of the raiders, Dick Boss appeals. Drawn wide, he has no weight to carry when you factor in Luke Dempsey's claim.
Verdict: Dick Boss can go well for shrewd Fermoy native David O'Meara.
Big Time's Naas debut win has been well franked, with three of his victims winning in the meantime. He will encounter quicker ground here, but shouldn't be underestimated.
Focus On Venice and Muscle Beach's maiden triumphs have also been complemented by the respective seconds and thirds obliging since, while Coach House steps up in trip after finding the pacy No Nah Never too strong at Ascot. That is tip-top form.
Verdict: Coach House gets the nod in a cracking little contest.
This has gone for export four times in five years and Move In Time, Medicean Man and Morawij are the pick of a cross-channel quintet here.
Maarek is the most distinguished, but could be vulnerable on quick ground, while Slade Power is another local of note.
He ultimately came up short in Group One company behind Lethal Force at Royal Ascot, but he wasn't disgraced and remains open to further progression.
Verdict: Dropping in class, Slade Power appeals as nap material under Wayne Lordan.
Ruler Of The World has not stopped improving since making a winning debut here in April. The only horse proven at this trip going to Epsom, he overcame the muddling pace there to record a decisive victory.
Libertarian finished with a real flourish that day. It may be that he was flattered by his eventual proximity to Ruler Of The World, but he is a Dante winner with scope to progress.
A similar comment applies to Galileo Rock, though he has also come up short behind Trading Leather and Sugar Boy since winning his maiden last year.
While Little White Cloud is respected, Trading Leather and Sugar Boy are the main dangers to the Epsom horses. Second to Libertarian at York, Trading Leather will love the fast ground and may well improve for the trip.
Sugar Boy might prefer more of a cut. Still, having conquered Galileo Rock and Libertarian at Sandown in April, he cannot be discounted.
Verdict: There is no obvious reason to oppose Ruler Of The World at this stage.
Call Me Bubbles might prefer more of a cut, as might Shop DJ, which has a Dundalk maiden to her name over this trip. Shop DJ was third to Caim Hill last time and Caim Hill had been fourth to the in-form Abou Ben at Limerick prior to that. Despite being 11-years-old, Abou Ben has found a new lease of life on the level. Domination is also of interest.
Verdict: Abou Ben's determined attitude might help him complete his hat-trick.