Colt expected to step up under Godolphin against the ward of O'Brien on trainer's favourite hunting ground.
Irish Derby: Libertarian takes on Ruler Of The World again
Three months ago neither Ruler Of The World nor Libertarian had raced publicly, and yet the two colts have progressed so quickly that they take their chance against seven others as favourites in tonight's Irish Derby at the Curragh.
Ruler Of The World had flown by the time Libertarian had got going in the English Derby a month ago and stayed on under Ryan Moore to win at Epsom by a length and a half on just his third run.
Libertarian passed four horses in the final furlong to finish second on what was his fourth run this season and so impressed were Godolphin that they snapped up the colt to race in the royal blue silks.
With Ruler Of The World owned by Coolmore, the clash between the two improving colts promises to become the latest chapter in a long line of showdowns between horses owned by the Irish syndicate and the international stable set up by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
William Buick will be on board Libertarian, who is trained in the north of England by Elaine Burke, for the third time tonight. He partnered Libertarian when the colt caused an upset in the Dante Stakes at York in May, and believes that the stop-start pace at Epsom badly hampered his mount's chances.
"He ran great but inexperience told," Buick said. "He is a very good horse, possibly the best horse in that race."
Much more is at stake than simply the €725,000 (Dh3.47 million) on offer to the first horse past the post after 12 furlongs in the Group 1 Classic, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free.
The Irish Derby is a race that has been farmed by Aidan O'Brien, Ruler Of The World's trainer. The Irish maestro has won it for the past seven years and three of those times with progeny of Galileo, the 2001 winner and Ruler Of The World's sire.
Libertarian is by New Approach, himself a son of Galileo and now a Darley stallion, who won the English Derby in the colours of Princess Haya, Sheikh Mohammed's wife, in 2007.
Godolphin have won the Irish Derby only once, when the filly Balanchine denied the colts in 1994. To secure victory in O’Brien’s backyard in a race that he has won 11 times against a horse by Coolmore’s flagship sire would be a significant triumph for Godolphin.
Similarly, Sugar Boy was bought this week by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa and runs in his familiar blue-and-yellow colours for Patrick Prendergast, the Ireland-based handler.
Sugar Boy had a charmed run when he beat Libertarian and Galileo Rock, the English Derby third and another rival tonight, at
Sandown in April. Sugar Boy has not run since and Prendergast barely has had time to adjust to the fact that he is to lose the horse to an as-yet unnamed trainer, after tonight’s effort.
“It’s my first runner in the Derby and, to be honest, I haven’t even got round to thinking about the fact it will be his last run for me,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to the race, he’s going there well and fresh and he’s only going up the road, which is an advantage.
“I’m hoping Epsom might have emptied a couple of them out. We’ll see.”
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