O’Brien Epsom raider has Rock-solid form credentials

Aidan O’Brien is keen to see what Chief Little Rock can do back on a decent surface when he contests the Betfred Blue Riband Trial at Epsom on Tuesday.

After winning his maiden on his second outing on good ground, he finished runner-up in two Group races, but they both came with plenty of cut in the ground.

In chasing home Paddy Twomey’s Deepone in the Beresford Stakes and subsequent Group One winner Ancient Wisdom in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, he nevertheless sets a very good standard for his five rivals to aim at.

The Ballydoyle handler was last successful in this race in 2019 with Cape Of Good Hope, who like Chief Little Rock was by Galileo and went on to finish fourth in the French Derby before grabbing a Group One win in Australia.

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“We’re very happy with him and he showed a good level of form when second in the Beresford,” said O’Brien.

“We like him and we think nice ground will suit him, it was nice ground when he won his maiden and we’re keen to learn plenty about him at Epsom.

“His form from last year looks good now and we’ve been very happy with him this year.

“We always thought he would stay a mile and a quarter and maybe a mile and a half.”

O’Brien, of course, houses the hugely exciting City Of Troy, who despite not running in a trial ahead of the 2000 Guineas, has continually seen his form franked, not least by easy Craven winner Haatem, who was over eight lengths behind him in the Dewhurst.

“All is good with him,” said O’Brien. “It’s a case of so far, so good anyway.”

Feigning Madness and Hector Crouch return after winning on debut at Newbury
Feigning Madness and Hector Crouch return after winning on debut at Newbury (PA)

Ralph Beckett’s Feigning Madness is defending an unbeaten record but has plenty to find on ratings, as does Roger Varian’s Defiance, who stepped straight into Group company after a Sandown maiden win and was not disgraced behind Clive Cox’s Ghostwriter in the Royal Lodge.

Arabic Legend has his first start for Karl Burke after being moved from Andrew Balding by owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, while Balding himself runs Bellum Justum, who beat the promising Inisherin last time out.

Kevin Philippart de Foy’s Bur Dubai completes the field.

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