Derby Festival News
|Friday 6th & Saturday 7th June 2014|
Week of Trials Sees Several Hopefuls Enter Derby Picture
Aidan O’Brien often uses Chester’s May meeting to help finalise his Classic contenders for June and having saddled Ruler Of The World to victory 12 months ago before he ignited the undulations of Epsom Downs with a superb success in the Derby, all eyes were on the Ballydoyle contingent last week as O’Brien unleashed some interesting contenders in the Derby Trials at the North West track.
First up came the Chester Vase on Thursday afternoon, the race that Ruler Of The World used as a springboard to Classic glory in 2013, and it was O’Brien once again who was heading to the winner’s enclosure as Orchestra played the right tune under a sublime Ryan Moore to give O’Brien his fifth success in the race from the past eight renewals, as he just held off the John Gosden-trained Romsdal to land the Group Three and he was duly cut in the Derby betting from as big as 40/1 prior to the race.
After a difference of opinion between some bookmakers following the son of Galileo’s narrow success, he is now a best-priced 20/1 with SkyBet to emulate Ruler Of The World’s feat and the manner in which he travelled and quickened in rain-softened ground suggest that he could be a superb understudy to Australia, who is already a skinny price to hand O’Brien a fifth Derby success on 7th June.
The following day, the Dee Stakes took centre stage having been downgraded from Group Three to Listed status. The renewal saw another potential O’Brien-trained Derby hopeful enhance his Classic claims in the form of Kingfisher, who landed the prize by a length.
Stamina appeared to be his premier attribute as another son of Galileo reeled in Bow Creek in the closing stages to land the 1m 2f prize and a step up in trip will certainly play to his strengths, but the bookmakers were less impressed with his performance and he is available at 50/1 for Epsom glory and on paper, will find it difficult to get the better of Orchestra and most definitely find things tough to topple Australia, who will spearhead the Irish charge after a gallant run in the 2000 Guineas.
Lingfield Park offered more Derby clues at the weekend and Sir Michael Stoute’s Snow Sky was significantly trimmed in the ante-post betting as he stormed to a mightily-impressive victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial and is a best-priced 25/1. However, he will come up against much tougher opposition than he faced at the Surrey track but still has to be respected given his trainer is a five times Derby winner.
Historically, the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown has been regarded as one of the premier trials for the Derby itself but Sunday’s renewal left many scratching their heads with regards to the future as Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock was awarded the race in the stewards’ room after John Oxx’s Ebanoran was demoted for hampering his rivals in the latter part of the event.
O’Brien, who has landed the race a record 10 times, saddled Geoffrey Chaucer, who is expected to be another shot fired from the Ballydoyle gun at Epsom, but he disappointed and will need to bounce back if he is to feature, however, he’s still around a 16/1 shot for the Derby and many believe he’s open to improvement for what should be a cracking Classic showpiece in a few weeks.
That said, the one trial that has yielded most Derby winners in recent years is the Dante Stakes, which takes places at York on Thursday and four of the last nine Derby winners have run in the race and if the highly regarded True Story justifies his tag of 5/4 favourite for the race, then the Godolphin runner could emerge as a serious challenger.
Meanwhile, Roger Varian trained Kingston Hill is being tipped by many to bounce back from his eighth place finish in the Guineas on the Knavesmire and he too could be a series Derby contender by the end of the week.