O’Brien hopeful of big run from Adelaide at Belmont

Colm O’Donoghue will attempt to enhance his excellent American record on both raiders in New York

Aidan O'Brien's trans-Atlantic reach this weekend could see him double his Group One tally for the season with top-flight hopes from New York to Sandown to Hamburg tomorrow, where Geoffrey Chaucer will try to break new ground for the champion trainer in the German Derby.

Just one horse – Godolphin’s Buzzword in 2010 – has broken the home stranglehold on the Deutsches Derby since it was opened to foreign competition in 1993 but Geoffrey Chaucer is one of a field of 20 as he attempts to get his season back on track.

Before that Verrazano and War Command will fly the Ballydoyle flag in this afternoon’s Eclipse at Sandown and victory for either will give O’Brien a record-equalling sixth win in the traditional first-encounter between older horses and the classic generation.

Later tonight Adelaide will line up in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby, formerly the Jamaica Handicap, and now the highlight of a new $3.3 million 'Stars & Stripes' day at Belmont Park. O'Brien also saddles Wonderfully in the $1 million Belmont Oaks, formerly the Garden City, in which Irish hopes will also be carried by Dermot Weld's Flying Jib and Pat Smullen.


Colm O'Donoghue will attempt to enhance his already excellent American record by riding both O'Brien hopes in New York but it will be Ryan Moore doing the honours on Geoffrey Chaucer who in many ways is the most intriguing Irish raider this weekend.

Last season’s Beresford winner was the clear Ballydoyle number two behind Australia for last month’s Epsom Derby but wound up a tailed off last after meeting interference down the hill. He then had to be scratched from last Saturday’s Irish Derby after reportedly coughing on the day of the race.

However, that didn’t stop the Coolmore team supplementing him into the German Classic at a cost of €65,000 earlier this week along with Godolphin’s Pinzolo who also ran at Epsom.

Finish third

O'Brien saddled Anton Chekhov to finish third in the 2007 Deutsches Derby, while King Of Rome was unplaced in the following year's race, so this is hardly a trip into the unknown.

Geoffrey Chaucer is drawn next to the big home hope Sea The Moon, a highly-rated son of Sea The Stars who will be ridden by the top French-based jockey Christophe Soumillon, and, after a year when O'Brien has already had four top-flight victories, the Irish hope could make history by becoming his trainer's first Derby winner on the continent.

So You Think was Ballydoyle’s last Eclipse winner in 2011 and it is another import, Verrazano, that will carry their principal hopes today. It will be the ex-American’s third start at a mile and a quarter and he didn’t impact in either of his starts at the distance in the US in 2013, including when out of the places in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

The other Irish hope today is Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather in a race in which The Fugue appears to be the standout older performer against a handful of three-year-olds which includes the Guineas winner Night Of Thunder and Kingston Hill who missed last weekend’s Irish Derby due to quick ground at the Curragh.

Tonight Adelaide has a perfect stall-four draw on the grass at Belmont where the English trained 3/1 favourite Toast Of New York is drawn on the fence. France’s Gai’o Chop and Pornichet, who is now trained by Australian Gai Waterhouse, complete the international representation.

“Adelaide’s a very good mover with a great temperament,” O’Brien reported yesterday. “He’s improved with every start and travels well in his races so I’d be hopeful of a big run.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column