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As is the case in a great number of big races, but the Irish Derby has been farmed by Aidan O’Brien over the past two decades.

Not only has the Ballydoyle maestro trained 13 of the last 20 winners of the race, but he’s also had dozens of horses in the frame in that period too.

O’Brien trained the first four home of the Irish Classic in 2020 and had the one-two-three in 2019 - a feat he’s completed in a magnificent seven of the last 20 renewals.

As we head towards the Group 1 contest at the Curragh, he looks set to send a strong battalion to the race, led by Dante Stakes third High Definition.

Well touted as a potential Derby prospect, the son of Galileo shaped as though this step up to 1m4f would be well suited when lacking the change of gear needed at York in May.

Dante Stakes Hurricane Lane High Definition

He skipped Epsom with this his chosen target instead, and looks likely to lead the Ballydoyle line.

In support there is a potential for a trio of beaten Royal Ascot horses to take their place too.

Sir Lamorack, second in the King George V Stakes, Wordsworth a runner-up to Kemari in the Queen's Vase and The Mediterranean who was fourth to Alenquer, all hold entries.

Three others remain in contention for Ballydoyle in what could be an onslaught from O’Brien.

With his record, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility O’Brien fills the places again.

Epsom runners pose UK threat

The Epsom Derby second and third, Mojo Star and Hurricane Lane look like they may well make the trip across the Irish Sea to go one and two places better in the Group 1.

They are joined in the entries by fellow UK-trained runner Lone Eagle.

While at least the first two named horses probably bring the strongest form into the race, the record of UK horses going across for the race is hardly inspiring.

In the last 25 years, 48 UK-trained horses have run in the Irish Derby, for a rather paltry return of one win and eight places.

Dual Champion Stakes winner Cracksman was beaten in the race in 2017, while a number of other top raiders have failed to shine at the Curragh.

Both Mojo Star and Hurricane Lane deserve plenty of credit for their Epsom runs with the former found to have been struck into after the race, while the Godolphin third lost two shoes in the running.

A Racing Post Rating of 116 for Richard Hannon’s colt is the highest any of the entries have recorded so far, and with just three career runs to his name, he could well improve on that if making the trip across.

Mojo Star Epsom

Lone Eagle heads into the race as the only UK runner with a win last time out, having routed the field in a Listed event at Goodwood last time, but one would suspect he would prefer a softer surface to the one we are likely to get at the Curragh on Saturday.

Best bets for the Irish Derby

Aidan O’Brien’s record is fearsome in this race, and while head says his runners will be overbet, such is his reputation in the race, there’s something at the back of the mind that says he’s more than likely to add a 15th Irish Derby to his CV.

Of his closest domestic challengers, the ground looks like it has gone against Irish Guineas winner Mac Swiney and Gallinule Stakes winner Earlswood, while Joseph O’Brien’s Southern Lights needs to bounce back from a poor Derby run.

His biggest danger on the home front could come from younger son Donnacha who sends out Fernando Vichi, who improved for the step up to this trip when winning at Leopardstown last month when beating The Mediterranean. The ground should suit and, if building on that win, could hit the frame.

On a straight win line though, Mojo Star looks the one. He’s less exposed than most of these, had the beating of Hurricane Lane at Epsom (who had the beating of High Definition at York), and could be a real Group 1 horse for the future. Richard Hannon said he didn’t handle the track at Epsom so to finish second in the Derby is some effort, and he looks the bet on the Tote Win line.

However, with Aidan O’Brien likely to throw a few darts at the race, he’s had three or more runners in the last eight renewals, a combination Trifecta of his horses might just be worthwhile, just in case!


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