December 5, 2021

O’Brien goes for ninth straight Beresford score

European Road to the Kentucky Derby

by John Mucciolo

To say that conditioner Aidan O’Brien has endured some success in the Beresford Stakes (Ire-G2) is a massive understatement. The Ballydoyle handler has saddled a staggering 18 winners of the race, which includes a string of eight straight wins in advance of Sunday’s edition. The one-mile test returns to the Curragh after a two-year hiatus, and the European Road to the Kentucky Derby event will present the top four finishers points towards the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

The surging Japan took the 2018 edition of the Beresford Stakes and has gone on to do some great things as of late. The son of Galileo has won a trio of races in succession this season capped by a fantastic tally over the mighty Crystal Ocean in the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-G1) last time out.

The Beresford has spawned the careers of some prolific horses in recent history, led by the magnificent Sea the Stars who was victorious in 2008. And this year could produce another future superstar.

O’Brien has three of the seven that will go to post in the Beresford as he aims for a ninth straight win. Smart maiden winner Innisfree might be the most dangerous of the trio. The Galileo colt was a good second behind excellent maiden winner Year of the Tiger at Naas prior to his game victory at Galway while always involved in the running. Donnacha O’Brien will be in the silks.

Juvenile Stakes (Ire-G2) fifth Cormorant makes his first run outside of Leopardstown for O’Brien. The expensive $1.4 million son of Kingman will be forwardly placed at the break. The third O’Brien pupil is Royal Country Down, a Gleneagles colt who was sixth in the Juvenile Stakes most recently. The Coolmore color bearer will have Wayne Lordan in the stirrups on Sunday.

Dermot Weld’s Shekhem has been first or second in three straight and intrigues making his stakes debut on Sunday. The improving Zoffany chestnut is a well-bred sort whose dam is a full sister to a champion stayer, and the January foal is well-respected in the wagering.

Ger Lyons’ fine debut winner Camorra, Jessica Harrington’s well-bred Gold Maze and outsider Silvertown, complete the line-up.