Ground concern for Obliterator

Trainer Ger Lyons plans to walk the track at Leopardstown before committing Obliterator to a run in Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial tomorrow.

Ground concern for Obliterator

As a half-brother to last year’s Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Just The Judge, the Oratorio colt is bred to be a Classic contender and certainly looked the part when making a winning debut at the Curragh last September.

He was a heavily-backed favourite for the Feilden Stakes on his return to action at Newmarket last month and although he found Godolphin’s runaway winner True Story too strong, Obliterator came home best of the rest.

Lyons is keen to test his colt in this weekend’s prestigious event, but only if conditions do not become too testing.

He said: “He’s in great order, but he won’t run unless we’re happy with the ground when we walk the course on Sunday morning.

“He is a very ground dependent horse, he needs it good or faster and if they get a lot of rain we’ll take him out and give him an exercise gallop after racing instead.

“I was very happy with his first run back. It was his first run since his maiden and he was as green as grass.

“They are talking about the winner being a major contender for the Derby and our fellow was a clear second, beating some significant horses and beating them well.

“We’ll let him do the talking on the track and these trials are there to find out how good they are.

“If he doesn’t run, we’ll probably run him in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh a fortnight later.”

Obliterator features in a field of eight declared runners, with Aidan O’Brien’s Geoffrey Chaucer taking top billing.

The master of Ballydoyle has saddled an incredible 10 previous winners of the race, with the likes of Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Yeats (2004) and Dylan Thomas (2006) all on the roll of honour.

After making a winning debut at this track in July, Geoffrey Chaucer struck gold in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh and is a hot favourite to complete the hat-trick on his return to action this weekend.

Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock is fancied to give the O’Brien runner plenty to think about after winning a course and distance maiden and the Ballysax Stakes at Navan already this year.

Jockey Pat Smullen told At The Races: “He’s a lovely horse, he’s only progressed all year from winning his maiden to the Ballysax and now he takes the next step.

“He’s real professional horse and does everything right in a race.

“We’ll see how good he is on Sunday. When you get to this level you are going to take them on and we’ll see how he fits in

“He’s a horse we have a lot of time for and I think he will run a huge race.”

Jim Bolger is double-handed, saddling Ballysax runner-up Answered and likely outsider Mandatario.

The trainer’s son-in-law and stable jockey Kevin Manning gets the leg up on Answered and said: “I rode him work during the week and I was very, very pleased with him. He’s in good shape.

“I think he’ll come on plenty from the Navan run, I don’t think the track suited him and I think a galloping track like Leopardstown and the climb to the line will suit him.”

Ebanoran steps up in trip for John Oxx having finished third in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial, while Johnny Murtagh’s Altruistic makes his first appearance since finishing third in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October.

The field is completed by Pat Flynn-trained 100-1 shot Highly Toxic.

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