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Talking points: Classic domination, golden oldies and the benefit of a high draw

Aidan O'Brien's Irish Derby domination potentially offers clues about the strength of his Epsom squad
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Following a busy Saturday of racing featuring the Irish Derby and the Northumberland Plate, Matt Butler picks out three talking points from the day's action.

Classic domination likely to extend beyond the Irish Derby

Santiago's game Irish Derby win was a moment in itself, but also an event which potentially foreshadows next week's Derby at Epsom and the St Leger at Doncaster.

He led home a 1-2-3-4 for Aidan O'Brien, with Fiscal Rules getting closest to the winner from outside of the Ballydoyle contingent, eight lengths back in fifth.

With O'Brien set to send another strong squad of regally bred middle-distance types, including Russian Emperor and Vatican City, to Epsom, his domination of the Irish equivalent perhaps highlights how strong his likely hand is going to be next weekend.

Santiago (left) fends off stablemate Tiger Roll in a 1-2-3-4 for Aidan O'Brien in the Irish Derby

Turn the clocks back to Peaceful's win in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the weekend following Love's win in the Newmarket version. O'Brien said in the aftermath at the Curragh that "when the other filly went and did that [Love] we thought this was a very high-class filly as well".

Logic dictates that after O'Brien's 1-2-3-4 in the Irish Derby, he must be pretty pleased with the hopes of his Epsom battalion too.

And with Santiago now a general 5-2 ante-post favourite for the St Leger, the warning signs are obvious for more Classics with the surname O'Brien stamped all over them this season.

High draw a huge positive in the Plate

A high draw at many tracks often comes with groans from connections fearing their chance is blown before they have even arrived at the racecourse, let alone left the starting stalls.

However, since the Northumberland Plate's switch to the Tapeta track at Newcastle for the first time in 2016, three of the five winners have come from double-figure draws, and 75 per cent of those to fill the first four places in the last five Plates have come from stall ten or higher.

The Northumberland Plate was dominated by those drawn high

It was no different this year, with Caravan Of Hope (17) beating Australis (12), Collide (19) and Cosmelli (16), a clean sweep for the high draw.

The seventh and eighth-placed Rajinsky (seven) and Reshoun (two) fared best of the single-figure draws. It is definitely a point to remember for 12 months time.

Golden oldies deserve their spotlight

Judicial, Limato and Caspian Prince all lit up ITV's Saturday afternoon coverage with big wins at the age of eight, eight and 11.

While the focus in the evening was rightly on the Classic generation, it was a solid reminder of the key role these horses play in the wider appeal of the sport.

Familiar faces are more readily associated with the jumps half of racing, but these weekend Flat warriors who return year after year should be treasured in their own way and arguably provide a useful tool for the younger generation – who may still have breeding use – to measure up against.

Based on Saturday's evidence, this trio have still got plenty to offer.


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Logic dictates that after O'Brien's 1-2-3-4 in the Irish Derby, he must be pretty pleased with the hopes of his Epsom battalion too
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