Racing: Weld and Smullen check Epsom going for Refuse To Bend

Ireland's leading Derby hopes were satisfactorily put through their paces yesterday ahead of Saturday's big race at Epsom. The favourite, Brian Boru, was one of Aidan O'Brien's four Derby hopes to work at Ballydoyle. The champion trainer hopes to run the colt along with Alberto Giacometti, Balestrini and The Great Gatsby in the Classic. He also has Handel entered in the race, but the colt is to go for the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday instead.

"They only had a blow because our gallops are nearly flooded, it has been such a bad morning," O'Brien said. "All anyone wants is safe ground at Epsom. They've had nice ground the last couple of years and I'm sure they'll have the same again."

Alamshar, who beat Brian Boru into third place in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial last time, also did a piece of work. His trainer, John Oxx, said: "Alamshar worked over a mile with a couple of companions. He worked well and we are happy with the horse."

Refuse To Bend, the 2,000 Guineas winner, has been confirmed on course for the race after pleasing connections with his work on the Curragh.

There had been negative vibes surrounding him after Dermot Weld's colt had galloped on Friday, causing his price to drift out to 4-1. However, Stan Cosgrove, manager for owner-breeders the Moyglare Stud, said: "We're on target for Epsom. He had a satisfactory blow over seven furlongs up the Old Vic Gallop with two others. We're happy with what we saw.

"Our one concern is about his stamina. He has so much pace that you wonder if he would get the mile and a half."

Weld has been at Epsom with big-race pilot Pat Smullen, checking the going at the track. The clerk of the course, Andrew Cooper, confirmed that 5mm of water has been put on the track. "Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen have both been down today and they seemed satisfied with what they saw," he said.

A breeze for Funny Cide

Funny Cide, who will attempt to win the American Triple Crown on Saturday, impressed work-watchers yesterday with a fast breeze over the course at Belmont Park.

His trainer, Barclay Tagg, sent the three-year-old gelding out three hours earlier than planned at 5.30am to work over five furlongs under his assistant trainer, Robin Smullen.

Funny Cide contests the Belmont after taking both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

Saturday's jockey, Jose Santos, missed the workout but was pleased by eye-witness reports. "My agent told me he went fast. Good horses always go fast and he always has, especially on a good track."

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