O'Brien on course for another York bounty but rivals get first chance
Even by his standards, Aidan O'Brien is on a supermarket sweep of Flat racing's early prizes as his Ballydoyle yard threatens to monopolise the season.
With his backers, the Coolmore stud operation, churning out bluebloods, the other big racing operations are on notice that a strong response is needed to stop O'Brien cleaning up.
Ballydoyle has already sent out the winners of the first two English classics - the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, with Magna Grecia and Hermosa, and claimed four Derby trials in four days, at Chester, Lingfield and Leopardstown.
At York this week we get to see supposedly the best of O'Brien's Derby candidates, Japan, who could meet last year's top two-year-old, Too Darn Hot, in the Dante Stakes.
Too Darn Hot is mainly owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and trained in Newmarket by John Gosden, which would offer some variation to the theme of Coolmore/Ballydoyle power.
The absence of any O'Brien runners today at York gives some of his rivals a chance with James Tate looking forward to testing Invincible Army at Group Two level in the featured Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes.
The four-year-old looked set to make a splash in the sprint division when winning the Pavilion Stakes on his debut last term before being edged out in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock, but he failed to shine in two subsequent outings before injury curtailed his campaign.
However, he made a really taking reappearance when victorious in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster in March, where the reopposing Major Jumbo was back in second.
At Punchestown this evening, after yesterday's stunning Gigginstown news, all eyes will be on Michael O'Leary's horses with two of the three on show set to battle it out in the Novice Chase (7.45).
Or Jaune De Somoza goes to post for Henry de Bromhead, having held Stowaway Forever when they last met.
Today, he is on better terms with that rival than he would be if meeting in a handicap, however it is Gigginstown rival Farclas for Gordon Elliott who is likely to provide the main threat.
At Killarney last night, Joseph O'Brien took the training honours with a near-67/1 double, sparked by the debut success of Eminent Authority (13/2) which overcame greenness to land the opening 11-furlong maiden in the hands of Declan McDonogh.
O'Brien's brace was completed in the staying handicap, in which his Shakespear'sgalley (8/1) made a winning return under apprentice Alan Persse.