|Monday 9th June 2014|
Future’s Bright for Australia Following Derby Win and Guineas Form Just Keeps Getting Stronger
All the ingredients were there for a Classic star to be born on Saturday afternoon and the proof was in the pudding as Australia followed in his parents' footsteps by producing a breathtaking effort at Epsom Downs to propel to the summit of this season’s three-year-old division as the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt battled off a gallant Kingston Hill to win the Derby in eye-catching style.
A son of 2001 Derby winner Galileo and 2004 Oaks victor Ouija Board, the pedigree suggested that Australia was always destined to sparkle but having produced a fine run in his prep run in the 2000 Guineas when a staying-on third, the Ballydoyle inmate still had to justify his reputation and was helped by a marvellous ride by his jockey Joseph O’Brien, the highly acclaimed Irish raider sparkled in the main event to hand the aforementioned Aidan O’Brien his third consecutive Derby success.
For months, racing circles have been adamant that Australia was untouchable in the Derby but the bookmakers certainly took him on and with some going as big as 9/4 in the morning and they were certainly stung when the colt fulfilled his promise and duly eased to victory with aplomb in a race that saw him etch his name alongside some of the greats of the equine world.
Uncharacteristically bullish about Australia’s chances, O’Brien has certainly made his positive feelings clear about his colt’s talents, exclaiming him to be the best he’s ever trained, and that’s saying something given that the has saddled some of the best ever over the last two decades, but with a field of 16 runners it was always going to be a test to show that he is the best middle-distance three-year-old in training.
Eyeballing him at the two furlong pole, O’Brien got busy on Australia and whilst Andrea Atzeni was offering a power-packed ride himself on board the Roger Varian-trained Kingston Hill, it was the Irish raider who just edged clear as they ventured into the final furlong and O’Brien kept his raider up to the task, and whilst he edged down the camber late on he stayed comfortably in front to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
It may not have been as visually impressive as some Derby wins in the past but the front pair had pulled well clear of Romsdal in third place to suggest that they both could be destined for big things over 12 furlongs as the season progresses and they could lock horns again in the Irish Derby on June 28th in what should be another enthralling duel.
Unsurprisingly, Paddy Power have installed Australia as the 4/7 in that race, but Kingston Hill showed that he can at least fight it out with the O’Brien-trained superstar and if the heavens were to open then the mudlover Kingston Hill will be quietly fancied to turn the tables and he is 3/1 with the same firm to land Irish Classic glory at the end of the month.
Looking further ahead, Australia has also been made the 4/1 co-favourite to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October alongside last year’s winner, Treve, but given nine of the last 11 winners of Europe’s richest race have been three-year-olds, Australia’s prospects look bright of building on his Derby win.
Furthermore, the form of the 2000 Guineas is working out tremendously well after Australia followed second in the Newmarket race, Kingman, who won the Irish Guineas a couple of weekends ago. Shifting Power, who finished fourth in the season’s first classic came second behind Kingman and Charm Spirit, who was fifth has since gone on to land a Group Three in France and Kingston Hill, who was back in eighth was obviously just 1 ¼ lengths behind Australia in the Derby. Not forgetting the Grey Gatsby, who was tenth and has won the Dante Stakes at York and French Derby! Therefore, the form of 20/1 Guineas winner, Night of Thunder, couldn’t be any stronger and all eyes will be on the Richard Hannon runner when he lines in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot next week.