Ante-post favourite Bolshoi Ballet heads a potential six-strong squad for Aidan O’Brien in Saturday’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom.
The Galileo colt is a general 7-4 chance for the premier Classic after impressing with comfortable victories in both the Ballysax Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial on his two starts so far this year.
Next best in the betting is stablemate High Definition, who was the winter Derby favourite before being deposed by Bolshoi Ballet and finished third on his recent reappearance in the Dante Stakes at York.
O’Brien also has Kyprios, Sir Lamorak, The Mediterranean and Van Gogh in contention at this stage.
Dante winner Hurricane Lane is set to be in opposition again and is one of three possibles for Charlie Appleby – along with One Ruler, who finished sixth in the 2000 Guineas and pleased connections in an Epsom spin last Monday.
The Godolphin handler also has Adayar, who has finished second in Derby trials at both Sandown and Lingfield this term.
Dual champion jockey Oisin Murphy is due to ride Adayar, with William Buick choosing Hurricane Lane and James Doyle on One Ruler.
Murphy told Sky Sports Racing: “Godolphin and Charlie Appleby have given me the ride.
“I had a sit on him last week. He felt really nice – it was a sensible canter, but he’s a gorgeous horse, improving type, bred for the job.
“I’m super-excited to be involved in the race.
“He’s by Frankel out of a Dubawi mare, and he’s lightly-raced, so who knows (if the ground will suit). But he is a big, strong horse – and the ground at Epsom is never allowed to get super-fast, because of the undulations of the track. They do a brilliant job there.
“I’d like to win a Derby – hopefully it’s this year.”
Jim Bolger’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney brings Classic form to the table, having edged out stablemate Poetic Flare in a thrilling finish at the Curragh nearly two weeks ago, with Joseph O’Brien’s Southern Lights and rank outsider Seattle Sound from Luke Comer’s yard the other Irish-trained possibles.
John Leeper is set to represent Ed Dunlop as he takes a huge step up in company after winning a Newcastle novice contest and a Listed heat at Newmarket so far.
Bred to be a champion as a son of Frankel out of Dunlop’s Oaks winner Snow Fairy, the colt would be a poignant winner for the team because he is named after Dunlop’s father.
Mohaafeth is another who will be making a significant move up in class, having won each of his three starts for William Haggas this term.
A Lingfield novice victory was supplemented by a handicap success at Newmarket, before the Frankel colt cantered home five lengths clear in the Listed Newmarket Stakes on his most recent run.
Roger Varian’s Lingfield Derby Trial winner Third Realm and Andrew Balding’s Chester Vase winner Youth Spirit are two other trial winners in the mix – with Mark Johnston’s Gear Up, the Martyn Meade-trained Lone Eagle and Richard Hannon’s maiden Mojo Star completing the 19 contenders.