Australia ready to take the heat in Investec Derby

Australia trainer Aidan O'Brien has saddled four previous derby winners. Picture: Getty
Australia trainer Aidan O'Brien has saddled four previous derby winners. Picture: Getty
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Australia is one of 17 horses in contention for Saturday’s Investec Derby following the confirmation stage.

A son of 2001 Derby hero Galileo out of 2004 Oaks heroine Ouijia Board, Australia is the hot favourite – trading last night around the 11-10 mark – to follow in the hoofprints of his parents following his excellent effort to finish third in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has made no secret of the regard in which he holds the exciting three-year-old, has saddled four previous Derby winners in Galileo, High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012) and last year’s victor, Ruler Of The World. The master of Ballydoyle is also set to run Geoffrey Chaucer, an unlucky third in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, Chester Vase winner Orchestra and Dee Stakes scorer Kingfisher. John Gosden has decided to supplement Romsdal following a workmanlike racecourse gallop at Newmarket last week. Gosden already has a leading contender in the unbeaten Sandown Classic Trial winner Western Hymn.

The O’Brien quartet form part of a formidable Irish challenge, with Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock and the John Oxx-trained Ebanoran in line for a rematch after finishing first and second in the Derrinstown.

Ebanoran passed the post first, but was relegated to second by the stewards following interference in the closing stages. Roger Varian’s Racing Post Trophy hero Kingston Hill impressed work-watchers when traversing the Epsom turf in a gallop last week and is another major player, as is Sir Michael Stoute’s Snow Sky, winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial.

Godolphin have three contenders in Pinzolo, Sudden Wonder and True Story. Arod is an intriguing runner for dual Derby-winning trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, having pushed Sunday’s French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby close in the Dante Stakes at York. Andrew Balding’s Impulsive Moment, the William Haggas-trained Our Channel and Red Galileo from Ed Dunlop’s yard complete the entries.

Cirrus Des Aigles has been confirmed an intended runner in the Investec Coronation Cup on the Derby day card.

The eight-year-old clinched his fifth Group 1 victory in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp just over a week ago and trainer Corine Barande-Barbe was keen to assess her stable star’s wellbeing before committing to a trip to Epsom. Trainer William Knight has made a brave call by supplementing dual course winner Beacon Lady at a cost of £25,000.

l  Barry Hills has been granted a temporary licence by the British Horseracing Authority to take over the running of Kingwood House Stables in Lambourn following the death of his son, John, on Sunday.

John Hills, 53, who was diagnosed with cancer in the spring, was the eldest of veteran trainer Hills’ five sons and brother of former jockeys Michael and Richard and trainer Charlie Hills. He married Fiona in 1987 and was the father of four daughters.

Hills senior officially retired in 2011.

The BHA tweeted: “Barry Hills granted temporary trainer’s licence with immediate effect to take control of yard previously under the care of John Hills.

“A minute of applause will be held at all racecourses with fixtures today to celebrate the life of John Hills.

“Thoughts of all at BHA remain with the Hills family and everyone at Kingwood House Stables at this time.”