O’Brien Holds The Aces In Irish Derby

On Sunday @ The Curragh

The 160th renewal of the Irish Derby takes place at the Curragh on Sunday (17h05).

Traditionally run a month after the Derby, the €1,25 Million Classic sponsored by Dubai Duty Free has attracted a strong field of middle-distance colts including the second and third placings from Epsom.

O’Brien’s Los Angeles looks the stable elect

O’Brien’s Los Angeles looks the stable elect (Pic – Coolmore)

With a record-breaking 15 wins in the race, including last year with Auguste Rodin, Aidan O’Brien is mob-handed on Sunday with six of the ten declared runners.

O’Brien’s Camelot colt, Los Angeles looks the stable elect. He finished a fine third to star stablemate City Of Troy in the Derby a few weeks ago. Unbeaten in three starts prior to that, including a Group 1 on soft ground, he will have every opportunity of success with Ryan Moore likely to be on board for the first time.

With five other runners, the Ballydoyle team are sure to dictate the pace on Sunday and the three English raiders will not find it easy.

Chief amongst them is the Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly. The James Fanshawe trained colt was just over three-lengths in front of Los Angeles when runner-up and the British-trained raider has been supplemented for this contest.

The Gleneagles colt enjoys a free supplementary entry on Sunday owing to his Lingfield Derby Trial triumph in May. On that occasion he defeated subsequent Royal Ascot scorer Illinois by a widening four and a half-lengths and is the biggest threat to the O’Brien battalion. The English star is a general 5-4 favourite.

His rider, the 50-year-old jockey Rab Havlin will be forced to concede substantial course experience at the Curragh on Sunday.

Havlin has continued to team up with Ambiente Friendly in his work since Epsom and been pleased with his reaction to the Epsom experience.

“He was a breeze-up horse, and they’ve done quite well settling him down. Riding him since Epsom he seems to have relaxed again even more,” Havlin observed.

“Every time I ride him, he’s more relaxed and friendly. I know mentally he’s improved; all the ticks are in the boxes after Epsom, and he’s come out of Epsom with flying colours.”

Sunway and Matsuri are the remaining English raiders. Sunway has disappointed trainer David Menuisier this season, racing in three French features. However, Matsuri has shown tremendous improvement in each of his three starts for Newmarket trainer Roger Varian.

The Sea The Stars colt is unexposed at this level, but such was the manner of his last win that it left connections tempted at a Classic tilt. He made his belated seasonal appearance at Leicester last month when easily accounted for his rivals by eight lengths.

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