Camelot tops Curragh contenders

Aidan O’Brien’s unbeaten Camelot appears among 11 confirmations for Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh.

The winner of the 2000 Guineas and most recently the Derby at Epsom, Camelot is set to be a hot favourite in a bid for his third Classic before a likely attempt at completing the British Triple Crown in the St Leger.

The most notable absentee was Jim Bolger’s Dewhurst hero Parish Hall, who has still not appeared this season, and his trainer will have to rely on Ballysax and Derrinstown Trial winner Light Heavy.

O’Brien can also choose from Learn, Astrology, Daddy Long Legs, Father Of Science and Imperial Monarch while John Oxx has three of the remaining runners, headed by Sea The Stars’ half-brother Born To Sea, who was fourth over a mile in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Akeed Mofeed, not seen since finishing second in the Beresford Stakes at two, and Chester Vase third Call To Battle are his other two.

Dermot Weld’s progressive and lightly-raced Speaking Of Which completes an all-Irish field.

Curragh general manager Paul Hensey is wary about potential rain on Thursday, even if the forecast in Kildare is largely favourable.

He said on Monday: “We had a nice, dry day yesterday and again today and I walked the course this morning and was pleasantly surprised how well the track has taken all the rain we’ve had recently.

“It’s yielding to soft at the moment, but I’d expect it to have dried to yielding by the end of the day.

“We’ll be watching the forecast closely for the end of the week. We might have light showers on Wednesday but the key day is Thursday when there is a band of rain moving across and we’ll have to see if we get it.

“The rest of the forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday then looks good.”

The Derby is being held in the evening for the first time, with the big race itself due off at 7.40pm.

Hensey said: “We did extensive promotion on pre-sales and corporate hospitality sold out a month ago, so much so that we created some extra facilities.

“So it’s very positive from that end of things and advanced ticket sales are well up, but we won’t know how we do in terms of crowd until the day itself.”

David Marnane will resist the temptation of getting too ambitious with Dandy Boy despite his smart performance at Royal Ascot.

The Tipperary trainer’s stable star, who has already provided a valuable success in Dubai, made it a first Royal Ascot victory for Marnane and jockey Pat Dobbs when causing a 33-1 surprise in the Wokingham Stakes on Saturday.

He clocked a quicker time over the straight six furlongs than the great Black Caviar when she won the Diamond Jubilee earlier in the afternoon.

“He’s been a great horse for us, winning three premier handicaps in three different countries, and he pulled out of the race well and is as fresh as paint,” Marnane said.

“We’ll just sit down and have a think about his next race now.

“I don’t think Black Caviar was quite on her day but obviously we’ll step him up in class now.

“I’m not going to do anything like supplement him for the July Cup, we’ll go steadily and find a Listed race or a Group Three.”

Marnane could still have a runner at the Newmarket July Festival in Jamesie, who ’won’ his side of the Buckingham Palace Stakes when finishing second to Eton Forever on Friday.

“I thought he had been a bit unlucky, but the best horse won and he ran a good race.

“He’ll probably go for the Bunbury Cup,” the trainer said.

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