O’Brien’s World can Rule at the Curragh
Eight-In-A-Row on for O’Brien
Ruler of the World will face eight rivals as he bids for a Classic double in this evening’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.
It’s being billed as a more competitive Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby but while the numbers may stack-up differently, it still looks like Ruler Of The World will fill the all-important number one spot at the Curragh this evening and give Aidan O’Brien an astonishing eighth consecutive win in Ireland’s premier classic.
That would be victory number 11 in total for the champion trainer, a quite remarkable achievement in a 16-year period, and one that will probably provoke more use of words like “monopoly” and “unhealthy” in relation to Irish racing’s €1.25 million international shop-window. The word “uncompetitive” might get tossed around too, but that’s to assume O’Brien’s Coolmore battalions have been handed open-goals over the years, and the evidence doesn’t support that.
Okay, Camelot last year was a 1 to 5 favourite, but the only other odds-on shot among the “Magnificent Seven” was Fame And Glory in 2009, and he was only odds-on because Sea The Stars was a late defector. The year before that, Frozen Fire was a 16 to 1 winner. Soldier Of Fortune was 5 to 1 in 2007. Cape Blanco led home a Ballydoyle clean-sweep in 2010, but it was Monterosso who started favourite. In 2011 The Queen’s Carlton House topped the betting behind Treasure Beach. Dylan Thomas kicked off the streak in 2006, and was favourite, but hardly at an unbackable 9 to 2.
So, while a certain “ho-hum” element in terms of the winning connections will undoubtedly exist if Ruler Of The World beats his eight opponents this evening, to suggest the most remarkable winning run ever seen in a major world classic has been something akin to shooting fish in a barrel is a falsehood, and a disservice to the accomplishment.
Nevertheless Coolmore’s overwhelming dominance has resulted in widespread relief this time that there will be no repeat, as in on four occasions in the past, of O’Brien saddling the first three home, and that Ruler Of The World will face worthy opposition from a variety of sources as he attempts to become the 17th horse to complete the Epsom-Curragh Derby double. That Coolmore’s beleaguered superpower rival, Godolphin, has purchased the Epsom runner-up Libertarian, and supplemented him into the race along with a pacemaker, introduces a certain animus to the race that can only add to a classic cocktail already containing the Epsom third Galileo Rock, Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather and Sugar Boy whose trainer Patrick Prendergast provides a family link to Derbies past.
A win for locally based Prendergast, grandson of the legendary four-time Derby winner, “Darkie,” would deliver a romantic “little guy” storyline vastly different to the Coolmore behemoth and Sugar Boy’s form lines, involving a Sandown Trial defeat of Libertarian and Galileo Rock, give him a rock-solid paper chance of giving his new owner, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, an immediate return on his investment.
“If I’d had everything my way, we’d have had a drop of rain. I’d be more confident of his chances then,” Prendergast said yesterday. “To be honest I haven’t even got round to thinking how it will be his last run for me. He’s going there well and fresh and he’s only going up the road. I’m hoping Epsom might have emptied a couple of them.”
Ryan Moore was on board there, and at Chester in May, but Joseph O’Brien is back on Ruler Of The World now and is confident the unbeaten colt has improved again. O’Brien jnr won on the prohibitively priced Camelot last year. Ruler Of The World may not have the same SP but Aidan O’Brien-trained Irish Derby winners come at all sorts of odds.