Another O’Brien Derby Double
All eyes will be on the Curragh this Saturday for the Group 1 Irish Derby (5.30) where that man, Aidan O’Brien, will seek to land his 11th triumph in the race courtesy of the red-hot 1/3 favourite, Australia.
This 3yo colt won the English Derby at Epsom just three weeks ago (1m4f, good) when delivering for punters at odds of 11/8 – a victory was also a huge slice of compensation for having finished under 1l third in the English 2,000 Guineas last month.
Joseph O’Brien always had Australia in a good position in the Epsom Derby, making smooth headway on the outside before settling matters over a furlong out, holding on in the end by over 1l to beat Kingston Hill (3/1).
The pair renew rivalry at the Curragh on Saturday, and it is understandable why punters have taken the 4/1 about Roger Varian’s Kingston Hill, to reverse roles, as only 1l split them last time out. The vital component in who comes out on top when they clash once more, however, could be the ground.
There was a suspicion that Australia’s tank had emptied at Epsom, while Kingston Hill was visually galloping all the way to the line. The good ground at Epsom, along with the good to firm ground, wouldn’t have been suitable for Kingston Hill, and with rain forecast at the Curragh, it could well be that a more testing 1m4f with some cut may suit the English raider more.
The stats, however, point to Australia coming home in front – since 1996,
…of the six Epsom Derby winners to have run in the Irish Derby, four managed the double; each of whom were trained by Aidan O’Brien.
But, with winners at 10/1 and 16/1 in this race over the last 10 years, along with a couple of 5/1 and 6/1 shots, each of Saturday’s will need respect, including Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock (14/1).
Beaten into eighth at Epsom having received a less than smooth passage, Fascinating Rock was a dual Group 3 winner prior to that in the mud, he can be given another chance to show his ability, especially if the rain materializes.
It’s worth noting, however, that only Frozen Fire in the last 18 years has managed to win at the Curragh having been out of the places at Epsom.
John Oxx runs Ponfeigh (25/1), but with only two minor victories over 1m this season, it’s hard to see how he’ll trouble the front two in the market.
Ballydoyle also have a supporting cast in Geoffrey Chaucer (20/1) and Orchestra Stall (33/1), but they may be entered to make sure there is plenty of pace for Australia, who is taken to emulate Camelot two years ago in following-up his Epsom triumph here. If he does win easily, as the odds suggest, then it could be worth checking out the winning distance – could he win further than at Epsom.
Here are the full trends covering the last 18 years…
All 18 winners raced during the last two months – 17 in the last month.
All 18 were Irish or French-trained. The last British-trained victor was 20 years ago, but Sir Michael Stoute won it three times in the 1980’s, though over 14 lost since 1996, including Monterosso at 3/1 in 2010.
All 18 were ridden prominently or held up – no front-runner triumphed.
17 ran in a Group 1, where 15 made the first three.
16 won earlier that season.
14 arrived via the English or French Derby.
Aidan O’Brien trained 10 winners.