Australia was on the drift for the Investec Derby with one major bookmaker on a busy morning of Epsom news but the favourite’s jockey Joseph O’Brien remains excited about his prospects.
O’Brien and his father Aidan became the first father-son combination to win the Classic in 2012 with Camelot, and Guineas third Australia heads a four-strong team from Ballydoyle on Saturday afternoon.
Paddy Power had eased Australia to a best-priced 5-4 but O’Brien jnr said: “I’m really looking forward to it. Ever since he came into the yard and started working he’s always been a good horse. He’s bred to stay the trip, bred to handle the track and bred to win the Derby, which is what you need going to Epsom. It’s the ultimate test of a racehorse.
“You need to have a horse with pace, balance and that will get the trip. It’s a funny track to ride at times. With Tattenham Corner and all the different things running down into the straight, it’s the ultimate test of horse and rider. It’s the race every jockey wants to win. He’s got plenty of pace, hopefully he’ll get the trip but it’s an unknown, his mum and dad handled the track well. We’re looking forward to it.”
The bookmaker reported a couple of weeks ago that “a racing insider told our representative at Sandown that Geoffrey Chaucer absolutely smashed Australia in a Ballydoyle gallop” and the firm are not repenting.
Paddy Power said: “Pundits have yawned and called us ‘the grandmasters of PR flim-flam’ about our statement on the possible merits of Australia and Geoffrey Chaucer. But we’re happy to put our money where our mouth is and take on the ‘jolly’, especially when Aidan is employing the scattergun approach of four runners.”
Oisin Murphy will have his first Derby ride as Ed Dunlop has booked the apprentice of the moment for Red Galileo, while Kevin Manning has been confirmed for the ride aboard Godolphin runner Sudden Wonder. The Charlie Appleby-trained colt finished third in the Lingfield Derby Trial and is one of three possible runners for Godolphin along with Appleby’s Pinzolo and Saeed bin Suroor’s True Story.
William Buick has chosen Sandown Classic Trial winner Western Hymn over the fellow John Gosden-trained runner Romsdal.
Frankie Dettori could still be available for a spare as it is likely he will be on the undercard for his retained owner Al Shaqab Racing, with Baitha Alga a possible runner in the Woodcote.