08/08/2003 12:00AM

High Chaparral starting year


High Chaparral, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Turf, will make his first start of the year Sunday in the Group 2 Royal Whip Stakes, over 1 1/4 miles at The Curragh. High Chaparral, who won the Epsom and Irish derbies last year, missed the first half of this season because of a bruised shoulder muscle.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien has warned that High Chaparral is short of full fitness. He also will have to carry 139 pounds and will be running over a distance shorter than his best, but he should still be too good for his five opponents. They are led by In Time's Eye, one of Dermot Weld's five entries for the Melbourne Cup, and the English-trained Imperial Dancer, both of whom receive seven pounds.