All roads lead to the Cazoo Derby for Luxembourg after he strengthened his position as ante-post favourite for the premier Classic by finishing third in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt emulated his illustrious sire Camelot by ending an unbeaten juvenile campaign with victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in October.
Camelot, of course, went on to win both the Guineas and the Derby as a three-year-old before being narrowly denied the Triple Crown in the St Leger at Doncaster.
At 9-2 Luxembourg was the second-favourite to strike gold on his return to action over Newmarket’s Rowley Mile – and while a tardy start put him on the back foot, there was much to like about the way he stayed on to pick up minor honours behind Charlie Appleby’s pair of Coroebus and Native Trail.
Paddy Power were impressed enough to trim his Epsom odds to 5-2 from 100-30, and his trainer was thrilled with his performance.
“We’re delighted really. He was ready to start and we’re delighted with his run,” said O’Brien.
“Ryan (Moore) was delighted with him. He said he stepped a shade slow and caught a heel after about 50 yards and because of that he ended up maybe a length or two further back than where he wanted to be.
“I thought Ryan gave him a beautiful ride, he came home very well and the plan always was to come here and then go to the Derby. If everything is well, that’s the way we’ll be going.”
The Ballydoyle handler expects a step up in trip to bring about further improvement in Luxembourg.
He added: “For us the plan was to come here and go to the Derby next regardless. Obviously our horse has a middle-distance pedigree and he was always going to go a mile and a quarter and being by Camelot there was always a good chance that he’d get a mile and a half.
“The first two were two good colts last year. It’s a great start for our horse and we have a good break between now and Epsom.”
O’Brien’s other Guineas runner, Point Lonsdale, could finish only 10th in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
O’Brien said: “I think he maybe wasn’t as forward as the other horse – we think he will come forward.”
Equally pleased was Roger Varian, whose Feilden winner Eydon ran an excellent race in fourth at 33-1.
“Eydon has run a massive race as that was only his second race on turf and the three in front of him were previous Group winners,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“He’s in two Derbys and we may go up in trip with him but whether it’s up to a mile and a half, we’ll see. We’ll let Prince Faisal (owner) digest the result before we make a decision.”