With 12 wins in the last 22 years in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes, Aidan O’Brien is indeed the master of this Epsom, and indeed Curragh trial.
However, only two of those winners have gone on to win the Derby in the first week of June at the Surrey track and several have faded into the abyss without even getting within touching distance of a Group One prize.
With three of the six runners, O’Brien seemingly looks in charge again of this Group Three event at 14:00 with his IBERIA having clear form water over his rivals.
Iberia was a never nearer second in the Royal Lodge Stakes was the pinnacle of his juvenile season and a subsequent below-par second in the Killavullan Stakes can readily be dismissed on account of the ground.
Based on those 2019 efforts he was always going to make a better three-year-old and even this galloping 10 furlongs may not be enough to unfold his full potential as he looks a thorough stayer in the making.
I suspect therefore that Cormorant is likely to set a searching gallop from the outset to make this is a true test and expect Iberia to put his experience to good use to bounce into the Epsom Derby picture at the main expense of his lightly raced stable mate Russian Emperor.
In the longer term I fancy the selection could be a St Leger contender alongside my other hope for Doncaster staying feature Arthur’s Kingdom.
Back to the cream of the card and KNOW IT ALL could be call in the Leopardstown Fillies Trial Stakes at 14:30.
By coincidence she was a massive eye-catcher when a staying on fourth of 12 to Iberia in a Curragh maiden 11 months ago. The daughter of Lord Kanaloa made solid progress in three subsequent starts culminating in a close up third to New York Girl in the Group Three Weld Park Stakes.
That effort came on horrible, clawing ground and there is little doubt that this promising filly will relish a better surface and should be able to make her mark at this level.
Of her rivals, A New Dawn looks an obvious danger, while the disappointing Love Locket is surely better than her slightly disappointing effort in a competitive nursery last back end.
But for punting value, the big field handicaps at the back end of the card are the races I love to sink my form analysis teeth into.
If the ground stays on the fast side, it is easy to see O’Brien’s War Front colt OHIO STATE brushing his rivals aside in a moderate, big field 7 furlong event at 15:30 off a mark of 70.
Of course, making his handicap debut, he is going to be well found in the market place and the two divisions of the one mile events offer better value.
Treble Cone has been given some mercy by the handicapper topping the weights in the second division at 16:30, but the strong staying GIORNI FELICE could be the each-way call.
The Born To Sea gelding finally got off the mark at the 19th time of asking in a 10-furlong maiden last time out which was a career best effort.
With no less than nine front runners/pressers in this field, they are sure to go a rare rattle here and Francis Casey’s charge will be picking them up late on.
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