Racing: Moore aims for Derby progress on Chaucer

California Chrome was drawn No 2 for the Belmont Stakes. Picture: Getty
California Chrome was drawn No 2 for the Belmont Stakes. Picture: Getty
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Aidan O’Brien has finalised his jockey bookings for Saturday’s Investec Derby with Ryan Moore picking up the mount on 
Geoffrey Chaucer.

Coolmore confirmed via Twitter that Moore would be riding Geoffrey Chaucer, who finished a promising third on his comeback in the Derrinstown Derby Trial and has been well-backed in recent weeks.

As expected, Joseph O’Brien maintains his partnership with the favourite Australia, while Seamie Heffernan is aboard the Chester Vase winner Orchestra and Colm O’Donoghue is on Dee Stakes winner Kingfisher.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Snow Sky has suffered a scare ahead of 
Saturday’s race after banging a joint in his box overnight. The Khalid Abdullah-owned colt booked his place in the Epsom line-up with an impressive 
display in the Lingfield Derby Trial, after which connections decided to let him take his chance in the blue riband. After a smooth preparation, Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe issued a statement reporting that the colt’s participation is now under threat.

He said: “[Sir] Michael Stoute has reported that the above colt [Snow Sky] banged a joint overnight. He will be kept monitored over the next 24 hours and a decision on his participation in the Investec Derby will be made thereafter.”

One horse who remains on target for the Classic is Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock, who has done everything asked of him this season.

While Weld’s Oaks hopeful Tarfasha would be unsuited by any rain that falls before the meeting, jockey Pat Smullen is unconcerned what the weather does before the Derby as Fascinating Rock has already shown his versatility.

“Nice ground would be his ideal thing but, if the weather broke and it came up soft, he has handled bad ground twice so far this year which is a plus, but I’ve always felt he will be a better horse on nicer ground,” Smullen told At The Races.

In the United States, California Chrome has drawn stall two for Saturday’s 146th Belmont Stakes, where he will attempt to become just the 12th horse to complete American racing’s 
Triple Crown.

With a field of 11 runners for the $1.5 million race, California Chrome will start near the inside for the mile and a half contest. If the three-year-old can win the race after his impressive victories in last month’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he will become the first horse in 36 years to achieve the Triple Crown, regarded as the greatest challenge in US racing.

California Chrome has been installed as the 3-5 early favourite for the race, while his main rivals all drew outside of him.

Commanding Curve, runner up in the Kentucky Derby, drew gate four while Ride On 
Curlin, who finished second in the Preakness, was given the fifth hole. Wicked Strong, who won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial in New York with a powerful late burst before finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, drew the ninth post.

Closer to home, Eric Alston is hopeful of picking up some prize money with two fancied runners at Hamilton Park today.

The Preston trainer sends Mossy Marie and Lord Franklin to the Lanarkshire track, where he has saddled a dozen winners in the past five years. First up, carrying the Trevor Hemmings colours, is Mossy Marie in the Griffiths & Armour Open Maiden Stakes. Alston said: “This will be her third start and she’s gradually getting the hang of things. She had no idea on her debut at Newcastle and last time at Redcar she did the splits leaving the stalls! I’m expecting a much improved performance.”

Lord Franklin, like Mossy Marie ridden by reigning champion apprentice Jason Hart, has plenty of course experience and he faces six rivals in the £10,000 Weatherbys Private Banking Hamiltonian Handicap.

Alston added: “He loves the track as he’s won twice and been placed twice from just seven 
visits. I’m expecting a big run at his favourite course and he’s in great order.”