Carlton House poses threat to O'Brien's dream of sixth straight Curragh success
Wednesday 22 June 2011
There will still be four runners from Ballydoyle in Sunday's Irish Derby, but not the four originally envisaged. Treasure Beach, Memphis Tennessee and Seville are still on course for the Classic that has become a benefit for their trainer Aidan O'Brien, but Recital was not on top form yesterday morning and his place in the squad will be taken by Roderic O'Connor.
O'Brien has not only won the past five editions of his country's premier contest, worth €1.25m (£1.1m) this time, and eight in all, but has provided three clean sweeps, most recently when Cape Blanco beat stablemates Midas Touch and Jan Vermeer 12 months ago.
His quartet this time are among nine remaining in the race at yesterday's penultimate stage. None, though, head the ante-post market; that position goes to Carlton House, who split Treasure Beach and Memphis Tennessee when third – and an arguably unlucky third – to Pour Moi in the Derby.
"So many things seemed to conspire against him then," said John Warren, racing manager to the colt's owner, the Queen.
Indeed they did. Carlton House had to overcome a late injury scare, a slow start in the race, interference from no-hopers and the loss of a hind shoe. Though his participation at the weekend has yet to be confirmed by trainer Sir Michael Stoute, his post-Derby work has been impressive and he is now as short as 5-4 favourite ahead of Treasure Beach and Seville, who has taken over Recital's place on the list.
No British raider has won the Curragh prize since Godolphin's Balanchine in 1994. The only other from these shores among this year's entries is the Ed Dunlop-trained Epsom fifth Native Khan.
Carlton House would be a first Irish Derby runner for his owner and only her fourth ever in Ireland, after Spinning Top, unplaced at The Curragh 11 years ago, Four Winds, second at Killarney in 2009, and Barbers Shop, pulled up at Punchestown in April last year.
There is no bigger purse on offer on the domestic front on Saturday than the £150,000 for the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle and there is now a further incentive. It was announced yesterday that horses placed in Europe's richest two-mile handicap will from this year have automatic passage through the first balloting stage of the more famous Australian equivalent, the Melbourne Cup.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Invincible Soul (3.50 Salisbury) Turns out again a week after finishing an eased-off last in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot, where he had no chance from his draw, but had previously seemed on an upward curve.
Marjury Daw (3.05 Carlisle) Has dropped to a workable mark and served notice last time that she may be returning to her best form.
One to watch
Ex-invalid Crassula (Terry Clement), who easily won her maiden at Kempton on Monday, looks sure to progress now that she has had her displaced ribs removed.
Where the money's going
Activate, proven on the forecast soft ground, is solid at a general 6-1 favourite for Saturday's Northumberland Plate.
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