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Jan’s the one for O’Brien

By Jimmy Walker

Aidan O’Brien has a strong hand in both today’s and tomorrow’s Group One races at the Curragh.

The highlight of course is the Dubai Irish Derby tomorrow where he has five runners including the new favourite Cape Blanco now that Johnny Murtagh has decided to ride the Dante Stakes winner instead of Jan Vermeer who was fifth in the Epsom Derby.

Murtagh admitted it was a close call choosing Cape Blanco over his Epsom partner Jan Vermeer.

“It was a tough decision,” he said. “For some reason he didn't run well in France.

“I got bumped out at the top of the straight and that knocked him off balance and he never got really into his stride.”

“We saw him in a different light in the Dante. He won very well that day and I think we have him back to his best.

“Picking between him and Jan Vermeer was a very tough decision, but I've gone with him now and we'll see what happens.

“The Dante form looks good. I suppose Workforce has stepped up a lot in the Derby, but that day my horse ran really well. It felt like a good race on the day and he stretched out.”

The Coolmore maestro O’Brien has won the Irish Derby for the last four years and he should do so again but in my view, with Jan Vermeer.

O’Brien’s star appeared to be in the descent at the start of the season but Royal Ascot changed all that as he landed Group One success with Lilly Langtry and Starspangledbanner as well as taking the Queen’s Vase with Mikhail Glinka.

Other O’Brien runners in the Derby are At First Sight who at 100-1, finished second to Workforce at Epsom before failing at Royal Ascot behind Monterosso in the King Edward VII Stakes, Bright Horizon and Midas Touch.

No English trainer has won since Ballanchine did the business for Frankie Dettori and Godolphin in 1994.

Godolphin have Chabal this time but Kieren Fallon boards as Frankie is claimed for Monterosso trained by Mark Johnston while another in with a shout is the Michael Bell-trained Coordinated Cut who was seventh at Epsom.

Timeform rate Vermeer a pound better than Cape Blancho and it would not be the first time that a jockey has made the wrong decision.

Murtagh should be in the winner’s enclosure after today’s Audi Pretty Polly Stakes where O’Brien’s third placed finisher at the Oaks Remember When tops the betting at 2-1 with William Hill.

The filly is still a maiden but is already drawing comparisons to 2007 winner Peeping Fawn who finished placed in the Epsom Oaks before demolishing her rivals in the Pretty Polly and then winning three more Group One races.

She is taken to oblige at the expense of Chinese White who is in foal and runs her last race.

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