By Fran Berry
It's a big field, far bigger than what we're used to for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. The O'Brien family have ten runners in the race, with five other runners involved as well and this is a wide-open contest.
Santiago won over 1m6f at Rotal Ascot last week and I can see connections trying to put a good bit of pace into the race.
He seemed to be at his strongest over the last quarter of a mile in the Queen's Vase and you'd imagine they're going to try and make it a test for him.
Although Santiago travelled into the race nicely at Royal Ascot last week, I just thought that on the rain-softened ground, he got a good strong pace to aim at and that really brought his stamina into play. The first impression after the line was 'Leger horse'.
Eight days on, he has to drop back in trip now on faster ground. If the rain doesn't arrive, I think that could be a key factor - the surface will be good and fast ground at the Curragh - and that will be a different set-up for him.
Fran Berry and Angus McNae preview the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
He showed at Listowel he handles cut in the ground very well, though he ran perfectly fine at Galway prior to that behind Alpine Star.
He's a fascinating contender in a year when everything is up in the air, though he would have had a hard race last week. You often talk about the bounce factor and he's been off the track since last September and had to travel to Ascot and race on tough ground before coming back to run in a Derby, albeit maybe not a vintage one.
He has a good few questions to answer but he's the pick of Seamie Heffernan and that probably counts for a lot. It's a very interesting dynamic and one that's very hard to weigh up for all he's a worthy contender, and this is not an ideal turnaround though by any means.
Arthur's Kingdom just kept grinding away in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot and a stronger test will bring his stamina into play. Pyledriver just beat him for a turn of foot there, and Martin Dwyer got a great run on the winner and nicked a couple of lengths up the inside in what proved the key point of the race.
Arthur's Kingdom has a bit more improvement to come as well, as that was his first run since Saint-Cloud last year and he's entitled to step up again. He has that quick turnaround as well, but he might just possibly have a bit more pace than Santiago.
Fiscal Rules got into a bit of trouble behind Siskin when a good fifth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Seamie Heffernan kicked on down the outside aboard Lope Y Fernandez and Kevin Manning just hit a flat spot, having to wait until Seamie has gone by him to switch out and get going.
He just lost a bit of momentum at that point but in the last half furlong, he fully gets into top gear and finishes very nicely without being unduly knocked about. Considering he got a check in a slowly run race, you could upgrade that run - just the second run of his life. It was a good performance.
I suppose the step-up in trip here is the question mark for Crossfirehurricane, but he's a son of Kitten's Joy. I was actually at Dundalk when he won those two races in the winter and I was very taken with him.
You have to remember that he won first-time out at Limerick last year - Joseph O'Brien's runners don't usually win first-time so that highlighted his potential and he's done nothing but progress.
That was his first run back on grass in the Gallinule and he did it with a degree of ease. He travelled into it smoothly down the middle of the track and he won with minimal fuss for Shane Crosse. For me, he won with a bit idleness if you will - it looked like he had an ear half-pricked and he was value for the winning margin.
Aidan O'Brien has plenty of other contenders - they're all Galileos and they could all improve.
I thought Ronan Whelan had picked up a very good ride on Dawn Patrol. He was beaten by Tiger Moth at Leopardstown in maiden company but there was a lot of talk about him prior to that run. He was meant to be Ballydoyle's potential Derby horse and, while he did get beaten that day, Tiger Moth might have had the better run through and may be a sharper type of horse.
Dawn Patrol is a colt that remains with plenty of potential and, if the talk was right, he could step up on the day in a very open race.Get your free Racing TV fleece - the latest in our range of high-class Racing TV merchandise! Click here for more details.
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