Updated on 09/15/2011 1:30PM

Galileo's the star in Irish Derby


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Galileo will attempt to become the fourth horse in the last 11 years to pull off the Epsom Derby/Irish Derby double on Sunday when he faces 11 rivals at the Curragh in the 1 1/2-mile Irish classic.

So impressive was the son of Sadler's Wells in winning the Epsom Derby on June 9 that Irish bookies are offering nothing better than 1-3 that he will succeed as Generous, Commander In Chief and Sinndar have before him. Although he will once again be challenged by Epsom runner-up Golan, his task was made considerably easier with the defections of Godolphin's Tobougg, who was third in the Epsom Derby, and Grandera, an unlucky third in the French Derby.

The softening ground was given as the reason for the withdrawls as the going on Friday was officially listed as good, yielding in the straight. That should pose no problem for Galileo, whose 4-for-4 record includes a listed win on soft ground.

The latest in the recent plethora of Tabor/Magnier horses to rise to international prominence, Galileo has been described by trainer Aidan O'Brien as a horse who "could gallop on water." Such divine attributes will hardly be necessary on Sunday as Galileo has already beaten most of his main challengers.

What's more, he is still improving.

"He went into the Epsom Derby a baby," O'Brien has said. "He came out of it a teenager."

Chances are, he will emerge from the Irish Derby a full-fledged young man.

The Michael Stoute-trained Golan ran a remarkable race to win the 2,000 Guineas prior to the Epsom Derby, but proved no match for Galileo when finishing second by 3 1/2 lengths at Epsom. He will enjoy the added give in the ground but is likely to be second best again.

The John Oxx-trained Exaltation was just 1 1/2 lengths behind Galileo in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and has since won the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes, but he may have been fortunate to be so close up to Galileo. He stands a chance for a placing as does Epsom Derby fourth-place finisher Mr Combustible, a pacesetting sort who must avoid his usual poor start.