Stable mates to battle it out in Epsom's premier Classic
Updated 10:21am Saturday 7th June 2014 in Sport
If Australia is as good as his trainer Aidan O'Brien has always said he is, he will win today's Investec Derby. But whether he deserves to be the 11-8 favourite on what he has actually achieved, is a moot point and his stable mate Geoffrey Chaucer makes more appeal each-way as a betting medium in what promises to be a fascinating renewal of Epsom's premier Classic.
Australia has won two of his four races, most notably a Group 3 event at Leopardstown last season. Last month at Newmarket, he finished an excellent third to Night Of Thunder in the 2,000 Guineas over a mile which is a distance far below his optimum on pedigree. Now that he steps up to a mile and a half, which should be perfect for him, he could come into his own with a vengeance. He looks a very useful prospect.
While Joseph O'Brien is on board Australia, Ryan Moore, who won last year's Derby for O'Brien on Ruler Of The World, will be partnering Geoffrey Chaucer, who is fancied to make a real race of it with his stable companion.
Two-out-of-two last season, which included the prestigious Beresford Stakes, Geoffrey Chaucer finished third in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at the Curragh on his latest start and was victim of a rough race. He can do better, especially now that he steps up in trip. He makes plenty of appeal, though obviously so too do the two horses who finished just ahead of him at Leopardstown, Fascinating Rock and Ebanoran.
It could well prove that O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard will have a further say in the showpiece event. He also runs Orchestra and Kingfisher, both winners at Chester last month and, of that pair, Orchestra is particularly likeable and is open to plenty of improvement.
Arod and True Story finished second and third respectively behind The Grey Gatsby in last month's Dante Stakes at York. The winner has since gone on to win the French Derby and has thus franked that form. Arod is lightly-raced and should relish this extra distance, while True Story, a beaten favourite at York, could also benefit from the step-up to a mile and a half.
The unbeaten Western Hymn has something to prove in this Group 1 company, but he is a colt of talent and potential, while Kingston Hill, already a winner at Group 1 level as a juvenile, finished unplaced in the 2,000 Guineas, but could leave that form well behind now that he's upped in distance.
Sixteen runners go to post. Australia may turn it into a one-horse race if he lives up to the hype. But he is hardly a value bet. My vote goes to Geoffrey Chaucer, which will have Aidan O'Brien celebrating in any case.
North Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey can get his name on the scoresheet twice on Derby Day at Epsom with Ballymore Castle and Arctic Feeling
The mount of Ryan Moore, Ballymore Castle won under the same jockey at Chester last month when he did well to come from off the pace and on dreadful ground to score over five furlongs.
The step-up to six furlongs in the Investec Woodcote Stakes should suit him much better. Fahey is also represented in this Listed juvenile contest by Burtonwood, who is no mean performer. But Ballymore Castle may have the edge and gets to vote to come out on top less than two hours before Moore teams-up with Geoffrey Chaucer in the Derby.
Jimmy Quinn teams-up with Arctic Feeling in the Voyage By Investec Handicap, a race the same combination won twelve months ago. The Malton gelding is running into form at the right time and was beaten only inches into third place at Haydock last week.
The £386,000 Investec Coronation Cup is the main supporting race and Cirrus Des Aigles is surely going to be a tough nut to crack.
The gelding seems better than ever at the age of eight and has won Group 1 races at Longchamp on his last two starts. Winner of a mouth-watering £5.6 million in prize, the French raider can add to that expanded purse today.
Yenhaab (1.35) is worth noting stepping up in distance, while recent Haydock winner Steps (3.15) gets the vote in the Investec 'Dash'.
At Doncaster, Paul Hanagan can lift the £20,000 Ladbrokes Handicap on Baarez, trained by Roger Varian.
A promising second at Newmarket on his debut last season, Baarez went one better at Haydock on his only other start. He looks a useful prospect starting out on his three-year-old career.
The nap vote goes to John Quinn's Innsbruck, who is fancied to step up on his third-placed Chester effort in the Beet With Ladbrokes App Handicap.
The fitting of a first-time hood on Satellite, who won at Ripon before finishing a close-up fourth at Newbury, is worth heeding, while recent winner Red Refraction can make the most of bottom weight in the Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap.
1.35 Yenhaab, 2.05 Ballymore Castle, 2.40 Cirrus Des Aigles, 3.15 Steps, 4.00 Geoffrey Chaucer, 4.50 Stepping Ahead, 5.25 Arctic Feeling.
2.00 Liberty Sky, 2.35 Duke Of Yorkshire, 3.10 Innsbruck (NAP), 3.45 Satellite, 4.45 Baarez, 5.20 Red Refraction, 5.50 Alpine Flower.
Today's other meetings
Musselburgh, Hexham, Lingfield, Worcester and Newcastle.
Goodwood and Perth.
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