For the second time in four years, next Saturday evening's Irish Derby will be an entirely domestic affair. It is also only the second time in 56 years that there will be no overseas-trained challengers for Ireland's premier Flat prize. The reason can probably summed up by the words Aidan and O'Brien.
The master of Ballydoyle has won nine Irish Derbies, including the last six with, in reverse temporal order, Treasure Beach, Cape Blanco, Fame And Glory, Frozen Fire, Soldier Of Fortune and Dylan Thomas. He has four times had the first three, including in the past two years. Indeed, in the past five runnings only Mouryan, third in 2009, and Casual Conquest, second in 2008, have intruded on the Ballydoyle hegemony.
O'Brien sent out the first of his 64 Irish Derby runners so far in 1996 – when one of his pair of long shots, His Excellence, came in third – and won it the next year with Desert King. His sextet of entries for this year's €1.25m (£1m) purse include the Derby winner Camelot, already the 1-4 favourite and likely to shorten further. Should the son of Montjeu bring the seven up, he will take O'Brien's Irish Classic total to 28, one more than his namesake Vincent, his predecessor at his Co Tipperary training centre.
Camelot will be attempting to follow in the hoofprints of his erstwhile stablemates High Chaparral and Galileo, both victorious at Epsom before the Curragh. Since then, only one English Derby winner has attempted the double: North Light, second in 2004.
With a single-figure field likely, Camelot could face most opposition from stablemate Imperial Monarch, a sufferer in a rough Prix du Jockey-Club last time out. Next in the market are the progressive pair Light Heavy (trained by Jim Bolger) and Speaking Of Which (Dermot Weld), while Born To Sea may turn out again quickly after finishing well to take fourth place in the St James's Palace Stakes a week ago. "I felt he was a miler, but all he seems to be doing is staying," said trainer John Oxx.
Chris McGrath's Nap: Khione (8.35 Newbury)
Made a pleasing three-year-old debut over a mile and should improve as she steps up in trip for her handicap debut, being by Dalakhani.
Next Best: Throwing Roses (2.30 Beverley)
Well beaten on latest two runs, but her most recent conqueror went on to run second at Royal Ascot in the season's best juvenile filly contest so far.
Where The Money's Going: Chester Cup winner Ile De Re is 8-1 favourite with Betfred for Saturday's Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
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