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6.00 - Bord Na Mona Recycling Apprentice Derby (1m4f)
A big race for the apprentice riders as they tackle the Classic course and distance in what is always a fiercely competitive contest. A field of 20 are set to line up and lots have chances on paper. Powerful Kieran will attract plenty of attention with Dylan Browne-McMonagle on board for a Joseph O'Brien team that has won this contest twice in recent years, while recent Leopardstown winner Igraine for Donnacha O'Brien and the returning Sea Ducor for Arthur Moore are other notables.
It's already been a season of substance for Jim Bolger and the Coolcullen supremo tends to have something primed for this race. Luke McAteer has shown himself to be a very able pilot in the last 12 months and more and he partners BEYOND HAPPY in the famous Bolger silks, seen to brilliant effect at Royal Ascot last week with crack miler Poetic Flare.
This Fastnet Rock gelding finished third on seasonal bow at Leopardstown (1m, good) this month over a mile, doing his best work late in the piece under Kevin Manning. That form has been handsomely advertised as the second and fourth won next time out and, with this increased tariff on stamina a likely positive, this unexposed four-year-old can surely be a major challenger under McAteer.
7.10 - TRI Equestrian Handicap (1m2f)
Joseph O'Brien retains the services of Ryan Moore on Bright Idea, who went close in a C&D (heavy) contest last month on his handicap bow. The better ground ought to suit him now and, while's he's gone up 4lb in defeat, the Zoffany gelding should play his part in the finish once more.
Recent Sligo scorer Lord Park is likely to go well again for Mick Halford but so, too, should EBONY MAW. Ger Lyons's went close on second start back at Limerick over just shy of this trip in April and has since run well enough in a Leopardstown apprentice contest over further. He's been eased 1lb on the back of that and has regular rider Colin Keane back on board now. It's likely the Lyons/Keane alliance will be seen to good effect at this meeting and this could be a good chance for them to get on the scoreboard.
2.00 - Dubai Duty Free Dash Stakes (Listed, 6f)
A field of 16 declared for the opening contest on Derby Day and Speak In Colours must concede weight to 15 rivals in attempting to win this race for a second time. He's been well-held in three turf runs this season and looks opposable.
Make A Challenge, Harry's Bar and Romantic Proposal are amongst the likely protagonists when push comes to shove but perhaps the filly TERESA MENDOZA will do the business for Ken Condon and Billy Lee.
She went close in a heavy-ground Group 3 over C&D last season before finding the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes out of reach. Her comeback at Cork last month was satisfactory and she has since found the frame back here in a Group 3 contest. That leaves her with a length to find on Romantic Proposal but she's still very low-miles and could well do better.
3.05 - GAIN Railway Stakes (Group 2, 6f)
A few of these are turning out quickly after Royal Ascot; Norfolk runner-up Go Bears Go and The Acropolis, beaten five-lengths in the Coventry Stakes for Aidan O'Brien, amongst them.
They'll likely be very competitive but favouritism probably sits with Fozzy Stack's Marble Hill Stakes winner Castle Star. That C&D win came on softer ground but it has been advertised by runner-up Masseto (ahead of The Acropolis in the Coventry) and this promising colt is already proven to go well on a sounder surface. He's the one to beat on form.
Another Ballydoyle runner, Cadamosto, doesn't have much to find with Go Bears Go on that Royal Ascot form and he was done no favours racing on the 'wrong' side in that race. More to come from him.
DUKEBOX is 2-2 for Richard Hannon and the Holy Roman Emperor colt is worth a crack in this grade. His Newbury Listed win last month came narrowly from the promising Dairerin and, while Michael Bell's runner didn't shine in the Woodcote at Epsom afterwards, he impressively won this week at Salisbury. Ben Coen is a good jockey booking for the leading UK stable and his mount is decent value in the early market.
3.45 - Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Group 1, 1m4f)
Aidan O'Brien accounts for five of the 11 declared runners in his pursuit of an incredible 15th Irish Derby winner. It's a stunning record and history has taught us that anything he sends to this race is worth considering.
HIGH DEFINITION shed his unbeaten record in last month's Dante at York, never really looking likely to justify favouritism under a patient Ryan Moore ride. He should be much-improved from that run and plenty will retain the faith in him now that he goes up to this trip for the first time.
Hurricane Lane won the aforementioned Dante and will give this another bold go, however, UK raiders don't have a great record recent in this race. The only British-trained winner this century was Jack Hobbs in 2015. Joining Charlie Appleby's hopeful will be Martyn Meade's Lone Eagle - successful in a Listed Goodwood race five weeks ago and the mount of Frankie Dettori here - as well as Richard Hannon's Epsom second Mojo Star. For a maiden, he ran a blinder in that race to chase home Adayar but there's something of a question mark as to whether he can repeat/build on that now.
Irish 2000 Guineas winner MacSwiney has a stamina doubt based on his Epsom Derby run (and previous Leopardstown form) so Jim Bolger's hopes of yet another Classic win in an outstanding 2021 season may have to wait.
The likes of Arturo Toscanini and Earlswood remain with lingering doubts, while Wordsworth appeared to be all about stamina when finishing second in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot over further.
Van Gogh was a good winner of the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud in the autumn over a mile on heavy ground for Aidan O'Brien. He was never a factor in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket but made the frame here behind MacSwiney in the Irish version. A wide trip conspired against him since in the French Derby as he finished mid-pack and, if he gets home at this new distance, his claims aren't dismissed in haste.
4.20 - ARM Holding International Stakes (Group 3, 1m2f)
Jessica Harrington's CADILLAC was responsible for one of the performances of last season when he brushed aside the likes of Van Gogh to win the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown on Champions Weekend.
He had created quite the impression when winning his debut over 7f at the Foxrock track and his Group 2 second here (7f, soft to heavy) in August behind MacSwiney now ready well. He was fifth in the Dewhurst at Newmarket in October and then ran fourth in a typically rough Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland in November.
He should have no issues getting this increased trip and it's exciting to see him back in action. Shane Foley's mount is the one to beat here, with Tattersalls Gold Cup third True Self looking to be his main rival representing Willie Mullins.
2.00 - Airlie Stud Stakes (Fillies' Group 2, 6f)
Lots of options for the O'Brien clan in the first of Sunday's group races. Prettiest (fourth in the Albany) and Yet (unplaced, Queen Mary) come here after recent efforts at Royal Ascot for Ballydoyle; while Gleneagles filly Velocidad made a winning start at Fairyhouse last month for Joseph and could be stepped up in class quickly now. They may end up with the numerical monopoly on the race but if Fozzy Stack's HERMANA ESTRELLA shows up, she's got very fine claims.
The Starspangledbanner filly made a mockery of her odds (50/1) as she made smooth progress from the rear and ultimately won deservingly at Naas (6f, soft) last month in a Group 3 event. That form received quite the nod last week when runner-up Quick Suzy bagged the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot for Gavin Cromwell and it suggests this filly is one to be reckoned with going forward.
3.40 - Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes (Fillies' And Mares' Group 1, 1m2f)
Jessica Harrington's Cayenne Pepper and Aidan O'Brien's Santa Barbara have been jostling for ante-post favouritism for the Pretty Polly Stakes.
Cayenne Pepper should be fitter for last month's Tattersalls Gold Cup fourth over C&D on testing ground and is a major player now back taking on her own sex.
The Santa Barbara hype-machine has cooled somewhat with her 2000 Guineas fourth followed up by a well-held fifth behind runaway stablemate Snowfall in The Oaks at Epsom this month. That being said, the Camelot filly is very much entitled to have learned plenty from those experiences and still rates a major talent given how little experience she has on track.
PRETTY GORGEOUS has run well in the Irish 1000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes of late, both races on heavy ground. The daughter of Lawman, winner of the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket last season, will appreciate this better surface and could well have a massive say now tackling a mile-and-a-quarter for the first time.
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