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Magical weekend for all-conquering O'Brien

 

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Duty bound: jockey Seamie Heffernan and Santiago after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday night

Duty bound: jockey Seamie Heffernan and Santiago after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday night

PA

Duty bound: jockey Seamie Heffernan and Santiago after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday night

It was a magical weekend for Aidan O'Brien in more ways than one as the all-conquering Ballydoyle maestro plundered his 14th Irish Derby success with Santiago leading home a 1-2-3-4 in Saturday's Curragh Classic.

Things took an even better turn yesterday when Magical (2/5 favourite) oozed class to rout a decent Pretty Polly Stakes field in her seasonal reappearance with Seamie Heffernan again proving himself to have the Midas touch in Ryan Moore's absence.

It was an Irish Derby meeting like no other without spectators - as well as the horrible plane-like noises emanating from the roof of the new grandstand - but it had a familiar theme as O'Brien finished the three-day meeting with seven winners.

His Irish monopoly continued with Santiago (2/1 favourite) setting tongues wagging, having held on bravely by a head from lightly-raced stablemate Tiger Moth (11/1) just eight days after Royal Ascot success in the Queen's Vase.

Heffernan secured his fourth Irish Derby success in the process as the 47-year-old continues to get better with age and with Dawn Patrol (10/1) and Order Of Australia (33/1) next best, O'Brien's cup is overflowing for Saturday's English Derby.

Given the unprecedented nature of this term's Flat season, O'Brien is not ruling out the possibility of Santiago turning out again at Epsom for a unique hat-trick attempt, although the English St Leger (for which he is 9/4 favourite) later in the season is a more likely target.

"It's very possible (those that ran in Irish Derby could run at Epsom). I spoke to John (Magnier), Michael (Tabor) and Derrick (Smith), the entries are made on Monday so we'll see what everybody thinks today and tomorrow whether they decide to make an entry or not," O'Brien said.

"If any of them come out of the race exceptionally well and they want to make an entry, that's what will happen.

"They didn't do much today, they'll do a canter tomorrow and a decision will be made some time during the morning. We'll see what they want to do, but it's not impossible. Nothing is definitely ruled out."

Recent Royal Ascot winner Russian Emperor (7/1) and Irish 2,000 Guineas second Vatican City (8/1) are his leading chances for the Epsom showpiece while O'Brien believes he has a future Ascot Gold Cup candidate on his hands in the shape of Santiago.

"We thought he was going to be a Leger horse and one to look forward to next year and it looks a lovely race for him. He'll be a lovely Cup horse next year, he travels well so he's a horse to really look forward to," O'Brien added.

Options are also aplenty with Magical showing that none of her sparkle has been lost as a five-year-old as she streaked away from Jessica Harrington's Cayenne Pepper (7/1) - which is bound for the Irish Oaks next - by four and a half lengths.

Heffernan completed a treble on the day having scored on the unbeaten Napa Valley (evens favourite) and impressive debutant Houston River (3/1 joint-favourite).

Belfast Telegraph