Old Persian attempting to win first Irish Derby for Godolphin since 1994

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Godolphin has five strong European hopes this weekend, with runners at the Curragh, Newmarket and Longchamps.

First off three-year-old Old Persian will attempt to end Godolphin’s 24-year Irish Derby wait when he backs up only two weeks after his triumph in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot.

He is one of 12 runners in this year’s Derby at the Curragh, and trainer Charlie Appleby is hopeful of a solid run from the son of Dubawi.

“He has pleased me since his win at Royal Ascot,” Appleby said.

“He is a colt with a progressive profile and the fact that the ‘win and you are in the Irish Derby’ clause was attached to the King Edward VII made us take a close look at it.”

Appleby is bidding to cap off the best month of his career after Masar’s victory in Epsom followed up with two winners at Ascot last week.

“It’s quite a quick turnaround, but we have been monitoring him closely all week, and I can report he is very well. He has eaten up, and he has regained the weight he lost running at Ascot,” the 45-year-old added.

William Buick, who won the 2015 Irish Derby on Jack Hobbs, will be aboard Old Persian once again.

Dee Ex Bee, second to Masar at Epsom, attempts to endorse the G1 Investec Derby form by again finishing ahead of Saxon Warrior, Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon.

Across in Newmarket, six-year-old Dutch Connection runs in the G3 Criterion Stakes over seven furlongs.

The sire of Dutch Art has had two outings so far in 2018, most recently coming home fourth to another Godolphin runner D’bai in the G3 John Of Gaunt Stakes over the same distance at Haydock Park earlier this month.

He began the year by finishing a solid fourth in Newbury last month and enjoyed his biggest victory in the seven-furlong G2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in 2016.

Trainer Charlie Hills said: “The Criterion Stakes could be the race for Dutch Connection to get back on track.

“He had a hard race in the Lockinge, which might explain why he was a bit below par in the John Of Gaunt when fourth to D’bai.

“He is fit enough and hasn’t required any strong gallops since Haydock. He is giving off the right signals.”

In France at Longchamps, Inns Of Court and Jimmy Two Times line up in the G3 Prix de la Porte Maillot over seven furlongs.

The pair, both trained by Andre Fabre, met in the G3 Prix du Palais-Royal over the same course and distance earlier this month, when Inns Of Court finishing runner-up with Jimmy Two Times a neck further back in third.

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Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has St Leger ambitions for Loxley

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Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby hopes Loxley can move nearer towards the William Hill St Leger by taking a step up in both class and trip in his stride in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on July 12.

Appleby has earmarked the Group Three contest as the next target for the son of New Approach, who finished seventh in last year’s Racing Post Trophy and made a winning return in a novice contest at the July Course on Friday.

The Newmarket handler said: “I was pleased with that performance at Newmarket. I loved him as a two-year-old and I probably just threw him in at the deep end in the Racing Post Trophy.

“We went into Friday night’s race very confident the step up to a mile and a quarter would suit him well, which it did.

“I will be looking towards the Bahrain Trophy with him now and we will treat him as a horse that could go to the St Leger.”

Last year’s Duke of Edinburgh Stakes winner Rare Rhythm faces a spell on the sidelines after meeting with a setback which ruled him out of the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Appleby said: “Rare Rhythm has unfortunately had a setback and that is why he couldn’t take up his engagement in the Hardwicke.

“It is unlikely he will make the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, either.”

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Silvestre de Sousa to partner Dee Ex Bee in Irish Derby

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Silvestre de Sousa will partner Dee Ex Bee in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday.

De Sousa guided the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum owned colt into second place behind Masar at the Epsom Derby and trainer Mark Johnston has again turned to the champion jockey after Dee Ex Bee was supplemented for the Classic on Tuesday.

Godolphin jockey William Buick had been in line to partner the Farhh colt, but will now be aboard Old Persian after the Charlie Appleby-trained three-year-old won in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

Johnston said: “William was going to ride Dee Ex Bee but with Charlie declaring another horse (Old Persian) we have switched back to Silvestre, the same jockey as in the Derby, so it couldn’t be better.

“Everything has been great since Epsom, perfect.

“Any rain would have suited us but, at the same time, we don’t think he needs it, so we’re happy to go.”

Appleby is bidding to cap off the best month of his career after Masar’s victory in Epsom followed up with two winners at Ascot last week.

He said: “We are very happy with the way Old Persian came out of the race last week and the signs are all very positive.”

“An eight-day turnaround at that level is always a concern, but you can’t fault the way he’s come out of Ascot.

“He’s eaten up and exercised well. He bounces back from his runs very quickly, and we are confident we can come to the Curragh at the weekend with a horse that is going to be very competitive.

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