YOU might think at first that the Curragh’s Royal Whip Stakes is an unusual place to see the one-time Guineas and Derby favourite in action. But take a look at its roll of honour and some of the highest-class thoroughbreds have won this race in past years. Vincent O’Brien used it to tune up Alleged for a classic and Arc bid on two occasions while Aidan’s winners include Irish Derby winners Fame And Glory and High Chaparral along with the Arc and Breeders’ Cup winner Found. It’s often gone abroad too, for example with Sir Michael Stoute’s Pilsudski.

All eyes will be on Luxembourg today. Winner of his three starts at two, he went off at 9/2 second favourite for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket but finished third, beaten two and a quarter lengths after a less than smooth passage early in the race.

Luxembourg was made Derby favourite on the back of that but was forced to miss Epsom after a setback and hasn’t been seen since.

The Irish Champion Stakes and possible the Arc are on the agenda if he comes through today well.

Aidan O’Brien said earlier this month: “If everything went well in that we could then look at the Arc. They are the three races we have in mind but programmes can change obviously.”

Speaking on is Betfair column this week, jockey Ryan Moore was hopeful of a winning return by last year’s Group 1 Futurity winner, and said: “I thought he ran a great race to finish third in the Guineas, especially as his winning chance was compromised when stumbling early, and we were obviously looking forward to running him in the Derby. That Guineas form has worked out well and hopefully he can take this en route to better things, but let’s get this race out of the way first.”


The field of six is made up of four O’Brien trained runners and the most interesting is the Williams-owned Point Gellibrand, a gelded son of Camelot who won well in a Leopardstown maiden last month, whereas Willie McCreery’s Group 2 winner Insinuendo has been absent since March and may need this and perhaps easier ground.

The Group 3 Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial Stakes sees Search For A Song warm up for her fourth Irish St Leger bid after two wins plus fourth last year. She was disappointing at ParisLongchamp in May, but the Weld team are in better form now. Raise You has been much improved for Joseph O’Brien this season and could the Galileo three-year-old also comes into calculations.

Small fields blight British

TODAY’s action in Britain is a reflection on the state of racing there with the afternoon meeting at Doncaster only attracting 40 runners for its seven-race card with only one race having each-way betting, with 10 runners.

Newmarket had a maximum field of eight for one of its seven races with only seven horses in its traditional grey horse race.

Newbury is the feature meeting and the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer looks below recent class with five runners.

Zechariah did beat Irish Derby winner Westover in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes here last season.

Despite Irish horses not allowed compete in lower-class race in Britain, Perth has plenty of Irish interest and Gordon Elliott sends a team of nine to Scotland. Indeed, Perth’s final bumper would be a walkover if not for three Irish entries, two from Elliott and one from Gerald Quinn, taking on a Laura Morgan runner.