Wednesday 21 March 2018

Recital out of tune for Derby -- O'Brien

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Epsom Derby third Carlton House is a best-priced 13/8 favourite ahead of Sunday's Irish equivalent at The Curragh.

The Michael Stoute-trained colt, which is owned by the queen, was one of nine horses left in the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Classic yesterday. Ed Dunlop's Native Khan, fifth at Epsom, is also expected to contest the mile-and-a-half event, while there are another 30 cross-channel entries at headquarters on Saturday and Sunday.

Aidan O'Brien, bidding for a sixth successive triumph in the Derby, has four entries. After an unsatisfactory workout at Ballydoyle yesterday, Recital -- the horse Kieren Fallon was prevented from riding at Epsom -- is not among the quartet. O'Brien's wife, Annemarie, tweeted: "We weren't 100 per cent happy with Recital this morning so he will not run in the Derby."

O'Brien's Treasure Beach, runner-up to the fast-finishing French-trained winner Pour Moi three weeks, is expected to run, while Memphis Tennessee and Seville, fourth and 10th, could also take part. Intriguingly, Roderic O'Connor, so impressive when landing the Irish 2,000 Guineas before flopping in the French Derby, remains a possibility. Best Hello, Notable Graduate and Dunboyne Express complete the list of potential starters.

The last named, successful in a Classic trial at Leopardstown in March, finished fifth to Roderic O'Connor in the Guineas. Kevin Prendergast's charge is one that would be suited by a cut in the ground, and the going at The Curragh was yesterday reported as good after six millimetres of rain.

Two English entries, Midday and Snow Fairy, also dominate Saturday's Group One, the Pretty Polly Stakes. Michael Stoute has Eleanora Duse engaged in the 10-furlong contest for fillies and mares, but the clash of Midday and Snow Fairy could be the highlight of the Kildare venue's three-day fixture.

The heavyweight duo have met only once before, when Midday prevailed by three lengths in last year's Yorkshire Oaks. Henry Cecil's star is a shade of odds-on with most firms to confirm that form at the weekend, with Ed Dunlop's 2010 Irish Oaks heroine Snow Fairy unraced since prevailing in the Hong Kong Cup in December.

Misty For Me, one of five Ballydoyle three-year-olds present in the 14-strong entry, looks the pick of the home contingent. A narrow winner of the 1,000 Guineas at The Curragh in May, the daughter of Galileo was fifth in the Epsom Oaks last time.


Mick Channon's Royal Ascot-winning juvenile Samitar is a high-profile entry in Saturday's Grangecon Stakes, while there are five English entries in the At The Races Curragh Cup, a Group Three that has gone for export twice in the last four years.

Channon could be represented by the unbeaten Factory Time in Sunday's big two-year-old race, the Dubai Duty Free Railway Stakes. Richard Hannon's recent Naas winner Lilbourne Lad is also engaged in the six-furlong Group Two.

O'Brien, responsible for 11 of the last 14 winners of the Railway, has entered four, including Power, his impressive Coventry Stakes victor. Tough As Nails, beaten just a short head by Power in the Marble Hill Stakes at The Curragh in May, could reoppose for Meath handler Michael Mulvaney.

Dandy Nicholls, so prolific on his Irish forays, has four entries on Sunday's card. Inxile, a three-time winner for him here already this term, may bid for further glory in the Woodies DIY Sapphire Stakes over five furlongs.

The Derby festival gets under way with an evening programme on Friday. The Group Three International Stakes, which could throw up an intriguing contest if Famous Name, Viscount Nelson, Jan Vermeer and Elusive Pimpernel all turn out, is the feature on day one.

David Wachman, meanwhile, is considering going in the opposite direction with his Mount Athos, which is set to run in Saturday's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.

"Mount Athos ran well at Chester last time out and did well to finish where he did considering he had such a poor draw," he said. "The owner, Dr Koukash, and I have planned this race for him. For the future, there are plenty of options and the Melbourne Cup could be one of them."

If Wachman plans to send Mount Athos to Australia for the Emirates Melbourne Cup, he will be helped by a newly announced tie-up with the Plate. In order to pass the first balloting stage for Melbourne, horses need to have won a Listed race or have been placed in a Group race over at least 2,300 metres. However, placed efforts in the Plate, the Ebor and the Cesarewitch are to also be counted despite being handicaps.

Jessica Harrington is also considering entering Bob Le Beau in the Australian showpiece after his Listed race success at Limerick last Friday. The four-year-old is enjoying a fine first half of the season, winning twice and filling the runner-up spot twice.

Patrick Cooper, racing manager for owner Christina Patino, said: "There are no real plans for him -- we'll see what Jessica thinks, but the Melbourne Cup might be a possible target."

Irish Independent

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