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O'Briens to Reply in kind

ANOTHER weekend and another opportunity for Aidan O'Brien to enhance his Group One-winning record.

The master of Ballydoyle has opted against running three-year-old Power in tomorrow's July Cup at Newmarket. However, he is represented in the six-furlong feature by another three-year-old, but more of an outsider in Reply.

Power was co-third favourite across the firms of bookmakers pricing up the July Cup earlier in the week and right up until declarations this morning when it was revealed he would not be among the 15 strong field.

Naturally, Reply appears to have weaker claims than that of Irish 2000 Guineas winner Power, but that said, Reply does get a three-year-old allowance and was within a length and three parts of his stable companion at the Curragh back in May.

A disappointing run last time out at Royal Ascot doesn't really do much for the claims of Reply but barely do you see a horse of O'Brien's finish well down the field on two consecutive runs, and although Reply was 12th of 22 last time behind Ishvana, he was still only beaten by three and a half lengths.

Joseph O'Brien, who hasn't ridden at a weight less than 9st for some time, has been booked to ride proving that Ballydoyle are somewhat expectant of a big run.

There is no Group One action in Ireland this weekend. However, the Ballydoyle team are in action in France tomorrow evening where Imperial Monarch bids to give the outfit a second win in the Grand Prix de Paris.

Joseph O'Brien was kept busy yesterday when riding at both Irish meetings -- first of all in Dundalk and then going down to partner a winner for his father at Leopardstown -- but tomorrow will be a dash of a different kind.

O'Brien won't be just going an hour and a bit down the M1 and M50 tomorrow, but he will have to get away from Newmarket after the July Cup at 3.20pm and across to Longchamp for the Grand Prix de Paris at 6.50pm.

O'Brien will be there partnering Imperial Monarch for his father and I suppose if you have to hop from one country to another it is certainly handy to have powers such as those at the head of Coolmore behind you.

It will be another Group One attempt for Ballydoyle in France as they try to get Imperial Monarch back to winning ways in a race they previously won with Scorpion and Kieren Fallon.

Imperial Monarch was a non-runner from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby despite the ground seemingly being in his favour, but it looks like he will be encountering good ground in Longchamp for a race that see's Paddy Power make him the 7/4 favourite.

Opposition to Imperial Monarch comes from Epsom Derby runner-up Main Sequence, who is a 3/1 shot, and Andre Fabre will bid to win this race for a 12th time with third favourite Saint Baudolino.

Ground would be a worry for the Ballydoyle team but the favourite's probably one to keep on your side rather than against you, although it will certainly be interesting to see if Main Sequence can compliment the Epsom Derby form a bit better than some of the others that have run since.

So, after the disappointment of having to rule out So You Think from the Coral-Eclipse last week on declaration morning, there is plenty for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien to look forward to this weekend and it was all set to start today with Maybe.