The Classic picture may well take a definite shape at York this week, but Lingfield’s Derby and Oaks trials did little to help clear some very muddy Epsom waters with two unexpected winners in the main events.
Christophermarlowe sported the first colours of owner Michael Tabor in the betfred.com Derby Trial Stakes and punters sent him off an odds-on favourite to supplement his recent Epsom win and book his Classic ticket.
However, it was Tabor’s second string Kilimanjaro who came from off the pace under Ryan Moore to claim the race and give Aidan O’Brien a fourth win in the Listed heat.
Winner of a Dundalk maiden just over two weeks ago, Kilimanjaro is now available at around 20-1 for the Epsom Classic on 6 June.
Paul Smith, who was representing winning owners Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier, said: “That was really good. He’s progressing all the time.
“He settled beautifully and he is learning the job quite quickly.
“When he hit the front he had a little look around. He’s got a very nice attitude and I suppose he’s in the Derby picture now. He’s honest and is a trier which is important.”
O’Brien was expected to win the Betfred Mobile Oaks Trial Stakes with Wedding Vow but it was the William Haggas-trained Toujours L’Amour who came out on top as she beat Bellajeu by a length and a quarter.
Haggas said: “She’s not in the Oaks. We’ll have to discuss that. That probably isn’t the plan. We’re looking towards the Ribblesdale Stakes. She stays well and that is her forte. I don’t know how good the race was, but I’m really pleased.”
Tracey Collins’ decision to bring Majestic Queen over from Ireland paid dividends as she landed a valuable Group Three success in the Betfred Membership Play Your Way Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes.
Speculative Bid could return to Ascot for next month’s Royal meeting after he stretched his unbeaten record in 2015 to three with a tidy victory in the Totescoop6 Victoria Cup.
As ever, yesterday proved informative away from Britain, not least at Longchamp with the French 2000 and 1000 Guineas.
Ervedya looked a real start in the fillies’ Classic, as she got up a shade cosily late in the day to foil a game effort by Martyn Meade’s Irish Rookie, just a week after the latter had been sixth in the Newmarket equivalent.
Winning trainer Jean-Claude Rouget said: “Ervedya has it all – class, a turn of foot that only Group One horses have and the right temperament. I’m very emotional, this is really a filly I like a lot. She is a real mile filly and the next logical target is the Coronation Stakes.”
The Coronation Stakes will also be high up the agenda for Irish Rookie.
And the showpiece fixture is likely to be next for Make Believe, the all-the-way winner of the colts’ feature, leading home a one-two for Andre Fabre from stablemate New Bay.
The St James’s Palace Stakes is set to be his next target, with the runner-up heading for the French Derby.
Success Days is set to challenge for Classic honours as he once again relished the testing conditions with an emphatic victory in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.
Surprise winner of the Ballysax Stakes over the course and distance four weeks earlier, Ken Condon’s admirable grey landed the odds in the manner of a rapidly-progressive individual.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh, for which he would have to be added to the entries, remains the big target. However, Condon admits he would also have to consider supplementing Success Days for the Investec Derby if the ground was soft at Epsom.
Getting his own way in front, Success Days (8-13 favourite) never looked like being caught after he took several lengths from his three rivals on the turn for home.
Kissed By Angels was another name to remember on the Leopardstown card after her win in the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial saw her cut markedly by bookmakers for the Investec Oaks.