06/28/2002 12:00AM

High Chaparral tries for second Derby


High Chaparral, trained by Aidan O'Brien, bids for his sixth consecutive win, and his second Derby this month, in the Irish Derby at the Curragh on Sunday. Only four trainers are represented in the field of nine. O'Brien supplies three more, Ballingarry, Della Francesca, and Sholokov, in addition to High Chaparral.

None of the 11 who finished behind High Chaparral at Epsom try again and several of his new opponents are very lightly raced. An exception is Balakheri, who put up his best performance to date with a 3 1/2-length defeat of Bollin Eric in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, over 1 1/2 miles at Ascot on June 21.

This was a considerable improvement on his third in the Group 2 Dante Stakes, at nearly two furlongs fewer at York on May 15, when he was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Moon Ballad, who went on to finish third, beaten two lengths by High Chaparral, at Epsom.

Balakheri can be expected to stay better than Moon Ballad but he still has plenty to find. Sir Michael Stoute runs both Balakheri and the twice-raced Princely Venture, winner of a maiden on his only run this year. Princely Venture is out of Sun Princess, winner of the English Oaks and St. Leger.

In Time's Eye is another interesting contender. A Dermot Weld-trained son of Singspiel, he ran second in both his races, one this year and one last, but this year's was a one-length defeat by High Chaparral in the Group 3 Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown on May 12.

The competition may not bother High Chaparral but it is enough to prevent total domination by the O'Brien quartet, all of whom have good form. Ballingarry was second in the Italian Derby, Della Francesca won the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes 18 days ago, and Sholokhov, though well beaten in the English 2000 Guineas in his only race this year, ended 2001 with a Group 1 victory in Italy.


Aquarelliste, who made a winning reappearance in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp on April 28, can follow up in another Group 1 event, the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, on Sunday. Aquarelliste, whose only defeat in six races was her second to Sakhee in the Arc, has five opponents, best of whom is Anabaa Blue.

Last year's Prix du Jockey-Club winner returned to winning form in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly three weeks ago, beating two more of today's runners, Ange Gabriel and Califet. But he needs to improve again and, if he doesn't, Califet is weighted to turn the tables here.