Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Saturday's Irish Derby at the Curragh, and pick out their 1-2-3...
"...should prove a tough nut to crack if arriving in the same form..."
Timeform on Dee Ex Bee
1. BANDUA (Dermot Weld/Declan McDonogh)
Unbeaten in two starts including minor event at Cork (by one and three quarter lengths from Whirling Dervish) last time, quickening smartly to lead two out. Remains open to more improvement and should handle this sounder surface on breeding (raced only on heavy so far), though this represents by far the stiffest task of his short career to date.
2. CARLO BIRAGHI (Fozzy Stack/Chris Hayes)
Won maiden here in May and not seen to best effect when last of five behind Giuseppe Garibaldi in listed race at Leopardstown last time, failing to settle and not persevered with once chance had gone. Remains with potential, but looks up against it stepping up markedly in grade here.
3. DEE EX BEE (Mark Johnston/Silvestre de Sousa)
Lengthy, attractive colt who won twice at two and showed much improved form upped in trip this term, showing benefit of return when half-length second to Young Rascal in Chester Vase in May. Took another significant step forward when one and a half lengths second to Masar in Derby at Epsom last time (finding plenty) and should prove a tough nut to crack if arriving in the same form here, with return to flatter track expected to suit.
4. DELANO ROOSEVELT (Aidan O'Brien/Seamie Heffernan)
Smart performer who produced best effort when chasing home Hazapour in Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown in May. Well held when sixth in Derby at Epsom, but shaped with more promise when four and a quarter lengths fifth to Old Persian in King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, not ideally placed and finishing with running left. Plenty to find with the principals on form here, though.
5. KNIGHT TO BEHOLD (Harry Dunlop/Frankie Dettori)
Showed much improved form after seven months off when winning Lingfield Derby Trial (by three and a quarter lengths from Kew Gardens) in May, allowed to stride on four furlongs and seeing it out well. Did too much too soon when well beaten in Derby at Epsom last time and no surprise to see him run well at big odds with Frankie Dettori booked here, especially if ridden with more restraint.
6. LATROBE (Joseph O'Brien/Donnacha O'Brien)
Proved better than ever when two and a quarter lengths second to Platinum Warrior in Gallinule Stakes here in May, and didn't need to improve to get off mark at fourth attempt in maiden over C&D (by six and a half lengths from Tornado Watch) last time, forging clear from two out. Could yet have more to offer, but will need to in this exalted company.
7. OLD PERSIAN (Charlie Appleby/William Buick)
Strong colt who won handicap at Newmarket in April and listed race back there (by half a length from Court House) in May. Continued progression up in trip when winning King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot (by one and three quarter lengths from Rostropovich) last time, well positioned but seeing it out well. Consistent sort who should give another good account provided those exertions have not left a mark.
8. PLATINUM WARRIOR (Mick Halford/Shane Foley)
Much improved since upped in trip, fourth to Hazapour in Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown prior to winning 10-runner Gallinule Stakes here (by two and a quarter lengths from Latrobe) last time, putting it to bed quickly once asked over a furlong out. Shapes as if extra two furlongs here will see him in an even better light and cannot be totally discounted, for all that this is much tougher.
9. ROSTROPOVICH (Aidan O'Brien/Padraig Beggy)
Won Dee Stakes at Chester in May and ran to similar level when four and a half lengths behind Study of Man in French Derby at Chantilly earlier this month. Progressed further on first try at this trip when one and three quarter lengths second to Old Persian in King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, but no obvious reason why he should reverse the form with that rival here and stable appear to have stronger candidates.
10. SAXON WARRIOR (Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore)
Unbeaten in three starts at two, including Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, and improved again when winning 2000 Guineas at Newmarket (by one and a half lengths from Tip Two Win) on return, surging to front two out and well on top at the finish. Possibly unsuited by track when failing to meet market expectations in Derby at Epsom last time (beaten four and a half lengths in fourth), and sets the standard on form if bouncing back here, well worth another try at this trip on more conventional track.
11. THE PENTAGON (Aidan O'Brien/Wayne Lordan)
Won two of first three starts as a juvenile and shaped with promise when third behind Saxon Warrior in Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on final start that season, never nearer than at the finish. Failed to progress as expected this time round, however, no obvious excuses when well held in Derby at Epsom last time, and something to prove here as a result.
12. THEOBALD (Jim Bolger/Kevin Manning)
Won maiden at Leopardstown and minor event at Dundalk at two, but limitations exposed in three starts this season, including when seventh of eight behind several of these in Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on return. Impossible to fancy on what he has achieved so far.
Timeform Irish Derby Analyst Verdict
DEE EX BEE has taken his form to a new level this year, finishing comfortably in front of Saxon Warrior when runner-up in the Derby, and can go one better. Saxon Warrior is probably still to show his very best and is the clear pick of Aidan O'Brien's runners. Latrobe looked good when shedding his maiden tag over C&D 3 weeks ago and may surprise a few.
Timeform Irish Derby 1-2-3
1. Dee Ex Bee
2. Saxon Warrior