Thursday, 25th Jun 2020
All-conquering handler Aidan O’Brien has a phenomenal record in the Irish Derby and launches a six-pronged attack on the 1m 4f Classic contest at The Curragh on Saturday (19:15).
The improving Santiago looks the pick of the sextet and a worthy favourite to land the spoils. Ballydolye maestro O’Brien has saddled the winner of the Group 1 contest 13 times, first scoring with Desert King back in 1997.
In Santiago, he has lightly-raced colt who has improved with each of his four outings and comes into the race in search of a hat-trick.
After finishing runner-up on debut as a juvenile, the Michael Tabor owned son of Galileo ran very well when chasing home subsequent Group 1 winner Alpine Star in a 7f maiden at Galway.
Santiago then opened his account in good style at Listowel, where he raced prominently before keeping on strongly to beat Sunchart by just over a length.
On each of those starts, he shaped like a horse that would come into his own when stepped up in trip this season.
That view was confirmed when Santiago landed the Group 2 Queen’s Vase over 1m 6f at Royal Ascot last week when beating Berkshire Royal by 2 3/4 lengths.
Ryan Moore held him up in the early stages before asking him to make a move two from home. Santiago then took up the running approaching the final furlong before only having to be pushed out to score with tons in hand.
It was a most taking display and one which suggested he was well worth a crack at this level. There is undoubtedly even better to come from Santiago and he can be backed at 3/1 with 888Sport to emulate his sire who took this back in 2001.
Crossfirehurricane is unbeaten in four starts and has shown a really likeable attitude, so rates the main danger to Santiago.
After scoring at Limerick and Dundalk, this Joseph O’Brien trained son of Kittens Joy dug deep on seasonal reappearance to land a Listed contest over a mile at the same venue when beating Choice Of Mine by half-a-length.
That game success saw connections pitch Crossfirehurricane into Group 3 company and he again showed a tenacious attitude to get the better of Gold Maze by just over a length over 1m 2f here in the Gallinule Stakes.
After being held-up in the early stages, he made progress into third two from home. Crossfirehurricane then challenged at the furlong marker, before taking up the running 150 yards from home and asserting.
He found plenty of pressure and still looked green as he ran around a bit in the closing stages, so was arguably value for more than the winning margin suggests.
The Irish Derby obviously demands much more, but Crossfirehurricane is clearly improving with each outing and the step up to 1m 4f promises to suit.
Withe underfoot conditions fine, and the yard having made a decent start to this season, he looks sure to make a bold bid to make it five on the bounce. Crossfirehurricane can be backed at 6/1 with Coral to do just that.
In a wide-open renewal, the Jim Bolger trained Fiscal Rules looks capable of outrunning his odds and appeals as the each-way value at the 10/1 on offer with BetVictor.
This son of Make Believe ran a stormer on his sole start as a juvenile when chinned close home and beaten a head by Wichita in an 18-runner maiden at this venue.
The winner is a high class Aidan O’Brien inmate who ran a cracker to finish runner-up to Kameko in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, before being beaten just over a length when a fine third in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Fiscal Rules was then pitched into the deep end on seasonal reappearance over a mile here and ran very well to finish fifth off 11 to Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas.
After losing vital ground when dwelling at the start, Fiscal Rules kept on nicely from the two marker to be nearest at the finish and beaten four lengths.
It was a highly promising effort, given how the race panned out. The fact that he was thought good enough to run in a Classic after just one start showed that Fiscal Rules is clearly held in high regard.
The form of both those races is strong, so it would be no surprise to see him make his presence felt if making the step up in distance to the Irish Derby trip.