Ballydoyle bullets: The five fastest Aidan O’Brien Irish Derby winners

It's Ballydoyle or bust as the Irish Derby kicks into gear on Saturday at the Curragh (3.45).

Aidan O'Brien has won 11 out of 15 renewals of the Irish Classic and goes into the race with a strong hand of five entries, including the favourite, High Definition.

Planet Sport trains its binoculars on the five fastest O'Brien winners of the one mile four furlong spectacle from the iconic Irish track on the outskirts of Dublin.

Blink and you'll miss these Ballydoyle bullets.

5. Sovereign (2019) 2.31.50

On face value, Sovereign seemed an unlikely ruler in the 2019 Irish Derby, given the colt had been used as a pacemaker in the English Derby and tailed off into 10th place at Epsom.

Yet, Sovereign is very well bred, by the super-sire Galileo and with the Irish Derby winning filly Balanchine in the bloodline on the dam's side.

Sovereign set off at the Curragh at a hefty price of 33/1, with stablemate Anthony Van Dyck, the winner at Epsom, a commanding 5/4 favourite.

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The outsider of O'Brien's five strong assault, Sovereign kicked a full eight lengths clear from the pack at the mile mark and, in a showing not dissimilar to pacemaker Serpentine's shock win in the 2020 Epsom Derby, never looked like being headed in an outlandish front-running ride.

Sovereign ran on to a solid six length win under Padraig Beggy and in a tidy time of 2.31.50, showing you cannot underestimate any of the master tactician O'Brien's runners in the Irish showpiece.

4. Fame and Glory (2009) Time: 2.30.87

Fame and Glory's Irish Derby win in 2009 was a bit more straightforward with the horse an adaptable performer who only had the great Sea the Stars ahead of him in the English equivalent.

Steered by the capable Johnny Murtagh, Fame and Glory lived up to his name with a smooth journey in the purple colours of Ballydoyle stalwart owners Smith, Magnier and Tabor.

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Golden Sword did an able job of setting the pace but could not live with Fame and Glory once Murtagh switched on the afterburners from two out. The five length victory was all the more remarkable given that Murtagh eased off at the post and the quick time of 2.30.87 could possibly have been cut even further.

Fame and Glory showed his versatility by going on to win the Ascot Gold Cup at a marathon trip of two miles, four furlongs but showed his best at the Irish Derby trip of one mile, four furlongs, adding the Epsom Coronation Cup for good measure.

3. Dylan Thomas (2006) 2.29.70

This top performer named after the Welsh poet had rivals under the cosh rather than Under Milk Wood in the 2006 Irish Derby.

Oozing typical O'Brien class, Dylan Thomas was never comfortable from the front in the 2006 Epsom Derby and was caught on the line by Sir Percy.

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At the Curragh and packed in midfield, Dylan Thomas was far more at home under Kieren Fallon.

Yet, it took a typically skilled ride from Fallon to unlock Thomas's kick in the home straight as the horse found himself a little too compacted in sixth place with two furlongs to go.

Fallon steered a Rolls Royce like it was a Vespa scooter, jinking to the rails on Dylan Thomas, before cutting inside between horses and then pulling on the accelerator to win by a cosy three and half lengths from French raider Gentlewave.

The clock stopped short of two minutes, thirty seconds, meaning that Dylan Thomas was not just poetry in motion on paper.

2. Cape Blanco (2010) 2.28.68

Cape Blanco seemed destined for American success, being named after an Oregon headland which forms the Westernmost point in the USA.

This three-year old Colt was another sired by Galileo and was eventually crowned Champion Male Turf Horse in the US but made his name by winning the Irish Derby on just his sixth start.

The O'Brien runner Midas Touch looked to be in the gold medal position, charging to the front from three out but Johnny Murtagh had Cape Blanco on a straight path and in good rhythm, drawing upsides and striking the lead at the post to win by half a length.

It was a one-two-three for O'Brien and a fifth Irish Derby win in a row for O'Brien but the hubbub masked a scorchingly fast time of 2.28.68 for Cape Blanco.

Cape Blanco went onto a prominent career in America, winning the Man O'War Stakes and the Arlington Million.

1. Galileo (2001) 2.27.10

Little did a horse mad Aidan O'Brian know, when he was flicking through the Coolmore catalogue as a lad, that he'd get to train such an outstanding animal as Galileo.

The horse that would go onto sire six winners of the Irish Derby, won the race himself in 2001 and in a time that had clock-watchers in a sweat.

If any O'Brien runner was going to get close to St Jovite's scarcely believable Irish Derby record time of 2.25.60 it was Galileo.

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He had already worried Lammtarra's record time in the English Derby when winning at Epsom a mere month before his tilt at Curragh glory.

Galileo's bloodless four length victory from Italian derby winner Morshdi was suitably impressive with Mick Kinane looming on the winning post in his black silks like a warship.

The winning time of 2.27.10 showed Galileo as a colt of real class. He was named European Champion Three Year-Old colt in 2001 and his ability as a stallion is unrivalled.

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