Sibling rivalry for big prize
The O’Brien brothers have leading hopes for Derby trial
Today’s fixture at Leopardstown is an important one, with some pointers for the Classics hopefully, but if not, for some good horses that will turn into consistent performers at the top level.
The Derby Trial is the feature of the three Group 3 events that anchor an eight-race programme.
Three of the eight runners represent Aidan O’Brien, who has won five of the last six renewals and 15 in total. Broome, who won in 2019, is by a fair distance the best of his most recent victors, while Success Days (2015) and Fascinating Rock (2014) were high-class performers.
Further back, the likes of St Jovite (1992), Sinndar (2000) and Alamshar (2003) emerged to be champions and in the first decade of the 21st century, O’Brien himself saddled elite equine athletes Fame And Glory (2009), Dylan Thomas (2006), Yeats (2004), High Chaparral (2002) and the industry-moulding Galileo (2001) to take the spoils.
Fame And Glory was the last winner to go on and claim a Derby, the Irish version, but more recently Capri (2017) and Sovereign (2019) ran well when finishing third before progressing to Curragh glory.
So a trial it is. O’Brien is represented by Londoner, ridden by the man who did the steering on Galileo 22 years ago, Seamie Heffernan, Tower Of London (Wayne Lordan) and Mohawk Chief (Killian Hennessy), with slight preference being for Lordan’s mount, a son of Galileo that won his maiden at this venue but ran no sort of race in the Champion Juvenile Stakes on just his second outing. It would be no surprise for him to put that behind him.
Proud And Regal is the highest rated runner and likely favourite. Trained by Donnacha O’Brien, who guided Broome to victory in 2019, he was runner-up in the Moyglare Stud Stakes before claiming the third triumph of his two-year-old campaign with a battling success in the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud. The Galileo colt also has a victory at the Foxrock track on his CV.
Johnny Murtagh piloted both Sinndar and Alamshar to success in this contest, adding another success for Aidan O’Brien with the appropriately named Midas Touch 13 years ago. Goldenstatewarrior got off the mark at the first time of asking at Gowran Park last month having not made the track at all as a juvenile. The only gelding in the race, he runs in the colours of the trainer’s wife, Orla and is entitled to improve a lot for that experience.
Sprewell (Jessica Harrington/Shane Foley) shed his maiden status on heavy ground at Naas in March and Cork victor, Mr Lincoln, has Gary Carroll in the plate for Joe Murphy.
Joseph O’Brien was successful as a rider on his father’s Battle Of Marengo in 2013 and Up And Under is the only maiden involved. He was runner-up to White Birch in the Ballysax Stakes over course and distance on heavy ground at the start of April, suffering some interference along the way, although he did get to the front and was reeled in late on.
It looks between the O’Brien siblings to me, and though Proud And Regal has much more done to this point, there may be more upside to Up And Under, with the son of Lope De Vega, out of the Galileo mare Hibiscus, having come for notable market support in the Ballysax on what was only his second outing. It is a plum ride for Mikey Sheehy.
The Cornelscourt Stakes is viewed as an Irish 1000 Guineas trial even though it was 2010 when the double was last completed, by Dermot Weld, Pat Smullen and Bethrah. That said, Joan Of Arc only fell a short head shy two years ago and did go on to claim the Prix de Diane at Chantilly.
Joseph O’Brien’s American Sonja confirmed her wellbeing at Gowran Park last month and Weld calls on Billy Lee to do the navigating on Tarawa.
Zarinsk is joint highest rated in the contest and has won at the track. The Kodiac filly’s seasonal debut in third at Leopardstown on heavy ground behind Never Ending Story and Matilda Picotte reads well and any improvement from that would put her very close here.
Goldana won on her Irish debut having been recruited from Germany by Joseph O’Brien but might have to give best to another appropriately monikered individual, the Jim Bolger-trained Wexford Native, as well as New Energy. The nod goes to the latter, the Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up representing a Sheila Lavery yard that has started the season strongly.