Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) victor Australia and runner-up Kingston Hill look set for their highly anticipated rematch in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) June 28 at the Curragh.
Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Australia rallied from midfield and overtook Kingston Hill over a furlong out to win the June 7 Epsom classic by 1 1/4 lengths. He is the 1-3 favorite.
While O'Brien hopes the course stays relatively fast for the son of Galileo out of U.S. and European champion Ouija Board, trainer Roger Varian said Kingston Hill needs some cut in the ground. He hopes that the rain forecast for Thursday and Friday is sufficient to provide the ideal conditions to turn the tables. The Mastercraftsman colt is the 3-1 second favorite.
O'Brien also entered Geoffrey Chaucer, a son of Montjeu who was eased and finished last at Epsom, and Orchestra, a Galileo colt who was 12th.
Godolphin's True Story was seventh at Epsom after winning the 1 1/8-mile Fielden Stakes by seven lengths in April at Newmarket for Saeed bin Suroor. The son of Manduro has reportedly worked very well in a visor since Epsom and will be fitted with that piece of equipment in Saturday's race.
Fascinating Rock, a Irish-bred son of Fastnet Rock, did not handle the fast ground at Epsom and finished eighth after winning his first three starts this season for trainer Dermot Weld.
"Fascinating Rock has done really well since Epsom," the Curragh-based trainer said. "The horse just didn't handle the track that day and we expect a better showing from him on Saturday."
Trainer John Oxx will send out lightly raced Ponfeigh, who has won both starts this season and makes his stakes debut.
"Ponfeigh has had two quick runs, but he is in good order and will take his chance in Saturday's race," Oxx said of the Teofilo. "We have always liked this horse and he has a nice turn of foot. Obviously the step up in grade and trip is unknown territory for him but on form he is entitled to take his chance."
Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I), 3YO, 1 1/2 miles turf
No. PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. 5. Australia, no rider, A. P. O'Brien
2. 3. Fascinating Rock, P. J. Smullen, D. K. Weld
3. 6. Geoffrey Chaucer, no rider, A. P. O'Brien
4. 7. Kingfisher, no rider, A. P. O'Brien
5. 4. Kingston Hill, A. Atzeni R. Varian
6. 2. Orchestra, no rider, A. P. O'Brien
7. 1. Ponfeigh, D. P. McDonogh J. M. Oxx
All to carry 126 pounds.