O'Brien in hunt for Ulster glory
The Magners Ulster Derby at Down Royal on Saturday week has attracted 27 entries with Irish champion trainer Aidan O'Brien dominating the £100,000 showpiece with eight horses engaged.
The O'Brien-trained Fields Of Athenry is top weight with recent winner Bantry Bay the next Ballydoyle horse in the weights.
Archangel Raphael, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Cradle Mountain and Sandro Botticelli are a notable quartet with King Of Aragon and Los Barbados completing the Ballydoyle team.
The big race has also attracted the attention of Newmarket trainer James Tate who has Groor engaged.
Groor is unraced since finishing down the field in the Tattersalls Millions at Newmarket in April.
The British entry was beaten only three lengths by subsequent Group One Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park at Salisbury last year and a short head by Molly Le Chou at Dusseldorf.
The leading trainer rates Groor very hightly.
"He had a cracking two-year-old career and it was a shame he couldn't get his head in front in a Listed race," Tate said.
"He was beaten a short head in one in Dusseldorf and was second to Elm Park in a Listed at Salisbury.
"His form is pretty strong and physically he has done okay over the winter."
Buenos Y Bobos is an eye catching entry from a Ger Lyons quartet, which includes Game Set Dash, Azzuri and Val Do Sol with the trainer having supplied both the runner-up and third in last year's race won by Wexford Town.
Town was trained by Jim Bolger who also has a quartet of entries with Ringside Humour, Knocknagree, Alertness and Brightly Shinning.
Regular Down Royal raiders on the Flat scene are also represented with Dermot Weld (Edelpour and Tuk Tuk), John Oxx (Xebec), Charles O'Brien (Botany Bay) and Michael Halford (Vilman) all having runners.
This year's renewal will be only the second since the conditions of the race were revised, restricting the Ulster Derby to three-year-olds only.
The two-day summer festival opens tomorrow week with an evening fixture.
The next local action is a competitive card at Downpatrick on Sunday.