No Derby decision yet, but Appleby expecting Ancient Wisdom improvement

Charlie Appleby is keen to let the dust settle on Ancient Wisdom’s Dante Stakes comeback before deciding whether he will join stablemate Arabian Crown in the Betfred Derby at Epsom.

Arabian Crown shot towards the head of ante-post lists for the premier Classic following a dominant display on his three-year-old debut in the Sandown Classic Trial in April and he is now a best-priced 4-1 second-favourite behind Aidan O’Brien’s 11-4 market leader City Of Troy.

Having been off the track since landing the Group One Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in October, Ancient Wisdom was a 7-4 favourite to stake his Derby claim on the Knavesmire – and while he proved no match for the William Haggas-trained Economics, Appleby was pleased with his performance in finishing second and is confident significant improvement will be forthcoming.

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“The winner’s won well and it’s something I’ve been saying all year really, with these three-year-olds it’s going to be unexposed two-year-olds that come to the fore,” said the Moulton Paddocks handler.

“The more we see of some of these three-year-olds with top-level form (from the last season), the more it’s suddenly becoming a bit more exposed. Full credit to the winner.

“From our point of view Will (Buick, jockey) was happy and most importantly he’s handled the ground. As we said before, we were confident he’d handle it, it’s just when you get extreme conditions he excels.

“Trip-wise he’s crying out to step up in trip and he’ll definitely come forward for the run as he’s having a good heave for one of ours.”

Charlie Appleby at York on Thursday
Charlie Appleby at York on Thursday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ancient Wisdom was pushed out to 20-1 for Epsom off the back of his defeat, but Appleby is not ruling out the possibility of firing a twin assault, adding: “Derby-wise I think we’ll just let it all settle down. I know it’s only two and a bit weeks to Epsom and people want us to make a call sooner, but I think it depends how much he progresses from it really.

“A mile and a half is definitely going to be his trip. Will said he wouldn’t be worried about Epsom or the ground, it’s just whether he wants a sterner test because as we all know you can be a mile-and-a-quarter horse round there and get the mile and a half because you’ve got to be able to travel.

“This horse will come on a lot and he’s allowed himself more time in the spring than Arabian Crown has. Arabian Crown came early and came in his coat, whereas this horse is still not there in his coat now.

“Arabian Crown looked more a staying type than this horse we felt on all evidence we’ve seen and we’ll have to see how much this horse jumps forward.”

When asked whether he felt Buick would face a difficult choice if he does run both horses in the Derby, Appleby said: “I think at the moment Will would have a job to get off Arabian Crown really, but if this horse comes out and does a decent piece of work it might be a different ball game.”

Trainer Owen Burrows at York
Trainer Owen Burrows at York (Mike Egerton/PA)

Just half a length behind Ancient Wisdom in third was the Owen Burrows-trained War Rooms, who had disappointed behind Arabian Crown on his Sandown reappearance.

Burrows was delighted to get his charge back on track, but a Derby tilt is not under consideration.

He said: “That was a very pleasing run and that was what I expected at Sandown, to be honest. We were disappointed at Sandown, but everything just didn’t quite go to plan. He got stuck on the outside and Jim (Crowley) was quick to say ‘put a line through that and don’t be afraid to have another go’.

“Credit to the owners, I was more favouring going to Newbury on Saturday (London Gold Cup), but they wanted to have a shot here and fair play to them, they’ve been rewarded.

“The winner is obviously very smart, but we were beaten half a length by a Group One winner from last year and if you took the winner out we’d not be too far away.

“He won’t go to Epsom, we’ll probably keep him for Royal Ascot. He’s only just turned three and you could see today that they went quick and he’s still a baby.

“Jim said you could try the Derby, but you might do more harm than good for the future, so I think we’ll look at the Hampton Court – a mile-and-a-quarter Group Three for three-year-olds.”

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