Joseph O’Brien is confident Ruler Of The World can maintain his unbeaten record and hand father Aidan a remarkable 11th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby this evening.
The master of Ballydoyle has saddled the likes of Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002) and last year’s hero Camelot to win Ireland’s premier Classic, with that trio all succeeding on the back of Epsom Derby glory.
Ruler Of The World, ridden by Ryan Moore at Epsom, bids to follow in their hoofprints at the Curragh, with the trainer’s son getting back on board for the first time since he won his maiden at the track in April. O’Brien jnr, who claimed his first Irish Derby aboard Camelot a year ago, said: “He’s won three times from three runs and he won very nicely the last day at Epsom so we’re looking forward to it. He was ready to run early as a two-year-old and he was in the Chesham (at Royal Ascot) until very late on, he was going to run but then he got a cough. They couldn’t shift it for the rest of the year but he’s a very exciting horse. You’d be hoping he’ll improve for the experience of Epsom, the Curragh is a fair track and he’s won there already.
O’Brien senior, who has won the last seven Irish Derbies, added: “He impressed us at Epsom and we think the Curragh will suit him even better.”
Likely pacesetter Festive Cheer, the mount of Seamie Heffernan, also runs for the Ballydoyle team.
Renewing rivalries with Ruler Of The World is Epsom runner-up Libertarian.
A shock winner of the Dante Stakes at York, the three-year-old proved that was no fluke with a fantastic effort at Epsom, emerging with extra credit given he did not appear to enjoy the undulating track. He has since been snapped up by Godolphin and is set to make his final start for North Yorkshire trainer Elaine Burke this weekend.
The trainer’s husband, Karl, believes the stable star is open to more improvement from Epsom. “He’s going there in great form and I’m sure he has improved,” he explained.
On the possibility of his wife becoming first woman in history to train an Irish Derby winner, Burke said: “It would be great to do it for Elaine. He nearly did it at Epsom and hopefully he goes one better on Saturday.”
Jockey William Buick is also confident of a bold show. Buick said: “I’m really looking forward to it. He’s a lovely horse and did very well in the Derby. The track should suit him better at the Curragh. Although he’s taking on the Derby winner, who will also improve for it being on a more galloping track, I’m very hopeful. We’ll have to see.”
Another horse who will switch yards after this weekend’s Classic is the Patrick Prendergast-trained Sugar Boy, who was snapped up by owner Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum earlier this week. The Authorized colt beat Libertarian and Epsom third Galileo Rock on his latest start at Sandown, and Prendergast is hoping his extra freshness will stand him in good stead, although some rain at Curragh would be welcome.
Galileo Rock’s trainer David Wachman acknowledges his charge will have to keep improving to trouble those who finished ahead of him at Epsom. Wachman said: “He’s in good form and the ground looks OK so far. Hopefully the rain stays away.
“It’s a competitive race. Hopefully he’s still progressing, if you don’t progress month by month, you get left behind.”
Jim Bolger’s only previous Irish Derby success was with St Jovite back in 1992, but he could find the target again with Trading Leather.
John Oxx has won the Irish Derby with Sinndar (2000) and Alamshar (2003) and he is represented by outsider Little White Cloud, who has been placed twice in Pattern company this year.
A nine-runner field is completed by Godolphin pacemaker Cap O’Rushes and Pat Shanahan’s 100-1 outsider Ralston Road.