Australia heads Derby field
Last Updated: 21/05/14 3:25pm
Aidan O’Brien’s red-hot favourite Australia heads a field of 27 three-year-olds for the Investec Derby on June 7 following the latest scratching deadline.
The son of 2001 Derby winner Galileo and 2004 Oaks heroine Ouija Board, who finished a close third on his seasonal debut in the first Classic of the season, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket on May 3.
O'Brien, seeking his third consecutive Investec Derby success and fourth in all, has left six colts in the Epsom Downs Classic over a mile and a half. Ballydoyle could also be represented by Chester Vase scorer Orchestra, Dee Stakes winner Kingfisher, Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial third Geoffrey Chaucer, Prix Hocquart runner-up Adelaide and Gypsy King.
John Gosden, successful in 1997 with Benny The Dip, is responsible for Coral's 10/1 second favourite Western Hymn. The son of High Chaparral is unbeaten in three starts, having taken the Group Three bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 25.
Other trial winners who remain engaged include Lingfield Derby Trial victor Snow Sky (Sir Michael Stoute), who won well by two lengths at the Surrey venue on May 10.
Lord Grimthrope, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, commented: "Snow Sky has come out of the Lingfield trial very well and does seem in good form.
"Prince Khalid will make a decision about the Investec Derby when he has had time to have a good think about it. There are a couple of things to consider, with the King Edward at Ascot a possible alternative.
"We certainly won't discount the Derby lightly and once Prince Khalid has made a decision, we will let it be known."
Another trial winner who could line up is Fascinating Rock (Dermot Weld), who was awarded the race in the stewards' room when he was edged out by Ebanoran (John Oxx) in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 11.
The second and third from York's Dante Stakes go forward, Arod (Peter Chapple-Hyam) and True Story (Saeed bin Suroor).
William Haggas is the only trainer with a 100 per cent record in the Investec Derby, having scored with his sole starter Shaamit back in 1996. This year he is set to be represented by Our Channel, who gained an entry when winning the Investec Derby Trial at Epsom Downs on April 23.
Kingston Hill (Roger Varian) was unbeaten in three starts as a two-year-old, culminating with victory in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. He stayed on to be eighth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas (beaten five lengths) and heads straight to Epsom Downs after sidestepping the Dante Stakes.
Two of the remaining entries hail from France, headed by Karakontie (Jonathan Pease), who is a dual Group One winner, having taken last year's Prix Jean Luc Lagadere and the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) on his latest outing. The other French contender is Norse Prize (Myriam Bollack-Badel), successful on his first two starts of 2014.
One horse with a Derby to his name already is Toast Of New York (Jamie Osborne), who annexed the Group Two UAE version on Tapeta at Meydan on March 29. Connections made the decision to go straight to Epsom Downs with the Thewayyouare colt after that success.
There is one final chance to be added to the Investec Derby line-up with a £75,000 supplementary entry on Monday, June 2, when the five-day confirmation stage also takes place.
Australia is the 5/6 favourite for the race with Sky Bet and their spokesman Michael Shinners expects that price to contract by the time the stalls open at Epsom.
"The Derby market is all about Australia at the moment and given that the recent trials have thrown up nothing to give Ballydoyle sleepless nights, I wouldn't be surprised if he goes off shorter come the off."