O’Brien back on track for Derby
GIVEN his extraordinary achievements over the years, it is a mystery why Aidan O’Brien has only two Epsom Derbies to his name. The back-to-back victories of Galileo and High Chaparral in 2001 and 2002 showed that the Ballydoyle trainer could prepare a Derby winner, but Treasure Beach’s agonising defeat by a head by Pour Moi last year is the closest O’Brien has come in almost a decade.
But that should all change at Epsom next Saturday, however, when Camelot will be hot favourite to win the Ivestec Derby with the trainer’s teenage son Joseph in the saddle.
The 2,000 Guineas winner is unbeaten, he has the best form in the race, he will improve for the step up in distance to 12 furlongs as he is a Montjeu colt, and his trainer thinks he will win.
Camelot’s chances were boosted yesterday when one of his likely main opponents, Dewhurst Stakes winner Parish Hall, was pulled out of yesterday’s Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Derby due to a leg infection.
According to most pundits, that leaves only Andrew Balding’s Bonfire as a serious threat to Camelot. The son of Manduro owes his second place in the betting to his victory in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes at York earlier this month when he outstayed Ektihaam to win by less than a length – not a hugely impressive victory.
So the chief threat to Camelot could come from O’Brien’s several other likely entrants, of which the most impressive is Imperial Monarch, who was 16-1 yesterday but will start at shorter odds as soon as the great British public cotton on to the coincidence of its name and the Diamond Jubilee weekend – popular gambles have started for stranger reasons.
Imperial Monarch ploughed through the mud to win the bet365 Classic trial at Sandown last month, and jockey Jimmy Fortune, aboard the second-placed Thought Worthy, was impressed enough to nominate the son of Derby winner Galileo as his selection for the Blue Riband.
Other Ballydoyle contenders include Chester winner Father Of Science, who is another son of Galileo, easy Dee Stakes winner Astrology, and Tower Rock, who was second in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown a fortnight ago.
All four of the other O’Brien horses could gain a place. O’Brien will nominate his final team tomorrow, and expect him to be at least three or four-handed as he is anxious to land another Derby.
The Aga Khan loves to win the Derby – he has four to his name dating back to Shergar in 1981 – and this year he relies on Kesampour, trained by Mikel Dezangles.
Last year’s victor Pour Moi was the first French-trained winner since Empery in 1976, but Kesampour will need to improve a lot to win.
Godolphin’s Mandaean is the only Group 1 winner other than Camelot in the field, having won the Grand Criterium in France last November. He flopped in the Dante, but do not be surprised if he bounces back on better ground, especially if Frankie Dettori takes the ride.
Unbeaten Main Sequence, the Lingfield Derby trial winner, is a decent each-way shout.
There is no entry from Sir Michael Stoute this year, and Sir Henry Cecil’s three possibles will be reduced to one, probably Noble Mission who runs in the Frankel colours of Khaled Abdulla.
Hayley Turner will be the sole female jockey in the field. She will be aboard Cavaleiro, trained by Marcus Tregoning, and this son of Tregoning’s Derby winner Sir Percy is no forlorn hope, even at a general 100-1 yesterday.
By the time the Derby is over, O’Brien could have made it a clean sweep of the British Classics so far, as his filly Maybe is the well-fancied favourite for the Investec Oaks.
Yesterday’s news that Godolphin had supplemented Kailani for the Oaks at a cost of £20,000 should worry Maybe’s fans as Mahmood Al Zarooni’s charge won the Pretty Polly Stakes in terrific style. John Gosden’s The Fugue, owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, may give Maybe most to do but, with such trainer confidence, Maybe is taken to win, while St Nicholas Abbey could make it a fabulous treble for Ballydoyle by lifting Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup sponsored by Investec for the second year running.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
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Wind direction: West
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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