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Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes: One-time Epsom Derby favourite Luxembourg returns at The Curragh

Luxembourg was a good third in the 2000 Guineas, looking likely to appreciate a step up in trip; he was made favourite for the Epsom Derby before suffering a pulled muscle that ruled the three-year-old out of the Classic

Aidan O'Brien is aiming Luxembourg at the 2000 Guineas before a possible shot at the Derby
Image: Aidan O'Brien's Luxembourg was favourite for the Epsom Derby earlier this year, before missing out due to injury

Luxembourg, winter favourite for the Derby, makes his return to action in the Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday.

Unbeaten at two, he signed off as a juvenile with a comfortable success in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, a race that has a rich history of producing Derby winners.

Having finished third in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket behind Charlie Appleby's pair of Coroebus and Native Trail, who have subsequently won the St James's Palace Stakes and Irish Guineas respectively, Aidan O'Brien was counting down the days to Epsom.

Luxembourg (maroon and blue silks) was third to Coroebus in the Guineas
Image: Luxembourg (maroon and blue silks) was third to Coroebus in the Guineas

However, during Chester's May meeting, at which O'Brien won all the recognised Derby trials, his number-one Derby hope suffered a pulled muscle and was ruled out of Epsom.

"He has obviously been off a long time and you wouldn't expect him to be cherry-ripe, but we have obviously been happy with his recent progress, as his fitness is built back up after his injury," his jockey Ryan Moore told Betfair.

"I thought he ran a great race to finish third in the Guineas, especially as his winning chance was compromised when stumbling early, and we were obviously looking forward to running him in the Derby.

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"That Guineas form has worked out well and hopefully he can take this en route to better things, but let's get this race out of the way first. He has been off a fair while now."

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O'Brien also runs Anchorage and Realism, while his son Joseph fields Point Gellibrand. Willie McCreery's Insinuendo and the Ger Lyons-trained Georgeville complete the field.

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