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Tattersalls Gold Cup target for Love

Love is likely to make her seasonal reappearance in this month’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly was the outstanding performer of last year’s Classic generation – winning the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks.

She was being prepared for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the autumn, but heavy rain in Paris put paid to those plans.

Love on her to victory in the Oaks at Epsom
Love on her way to victory in the Oaks at Epsom (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

The Ballydoyle handler initially nominated the Mooresbridge Stakes as a possible comeback date – but that race has been and gone, so Love could now start off in the 10-and-a-half-furlong Group One on May 23.

“We’re looking at the Tattersalls Gold Cup with Love,” said O’Brien.

“It’s not been totally confirmed yet. But that’s what we are looking at, and we’ll make a final decision closer to the time.”

High time to unleash winter Derby favourite

Long-time Derby favourite High Definition puts his unbeaten record and tall reputation on the line in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt spent the winter months at the top of ante-post lists for next month’s premier Classic, having followed up his debut success at the Curragh with a scintillating display in the Beresford Stakes at September.

However, unsatisfactory blood test results ruled him out of an intended return to action in the Lingfield Derby Trial and he now finds himself usurped at the head of the Epsom market by stablemate Bolshoi Ballet following his runaway success at Leopardstown on Sunday.

O’Brien hopes High Definition can stake his claim on Thursday with a positive comeback performance on the Knavesmire.

He said: “We are keen to get a run into him. Obviously everybody knows the plan was originally to go to Lingfield on Saturday with him. We couldn’t do that, so now he is going to York.

“We’re just glad to get him out and then we can see where we go from there.”

O’Brien also runs Roman Empire, the mount of Hollie Doyle.

“He won at Gowran nicely last year, but disappointed us first time out this season,” the Ballydoyle handler added.

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“The ground was very bad that day, he was keen enough and he just got tired. We’ve always thought this trip would suit him.”

The Mark Johnston-trained Gear Up won three of his four starts as a juvenile, including a York victory in the Acomb Stakes and a subsequent Group One success in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, a race in which Bolshoi Ballet could finish only fifth.

Johnston said: “It’s very exciting, obviously. It looks a competitive race, but he’s been here twice before and won both times.

“The ground shouldn’t trouble him. I’m looking forward to it. I think a mile and a quarter is most probably his minimum trip now, but it’s a stepping stone to run in the Derby next.”

Roger Varian has already saddled two trial winners in the past week, with El Drama seemingly bound for the French Derby after landing Chester’s Dee Stakes, and Third Realm throwing his hat into the ring for Epsom with victory at Lingfield.

The Newmarket handler has high hopes for Royal Champion in the Dante, with the Shamardal colt expected to improve significantly from his third-placed finish in last month’s Feilden Stakes.

“It looks a very good race on paper, but we think an awful lot of our horse,” said Varian.

Royal Champion winning at Newmarket last year
Royal Champion winning at Newmarket last year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s look good all spring and possibly just needed his run in the Feilden.

“He’s trained real good going into the Dante. I don’t know if he’ll win it, but I should think he’ll run very well.”

Hurricane Lane bids to make it three wins from three starts for trainer Charlie Appleby.

The son of Frankel made a successful reappearance in a conditions race at Newbury a month ago, with the runner-up Maximal since finishing second to El Drama in the Dee Stakes.

Speaking on www.godolphin.com, Appleby said: “We are pleased with how Hurricane Lane is coming into this race, off the back of a nice win on his seasonal return. He has come forward for that run and we feel that the track and ground at York will suit.

“It’s the next test for him to see where he is going to end up over the forthcoming months.”

Uncle Bryn scoring at Kempton
Uncle Bryn scoring at Kempton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

John Gosden, who now trains in partnership with son Thady, saddled the last horse to complete the Dante-Derby double in Golden Horn.

Six years on, the Clarehaven team is represented by Uncle Bryn, who lost his unbeaten record when third in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom on his seasonal debut, as well as Megallan.

Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas runs Sandown Classic Trial winner Alenquer, while Belloccio (David Menuisier), Pythagoras (Richard Fahey) and Flying Visit (Jim Bolger) complete the 11-strong field.

Snowfall dominates for Musidora victory

Snowfall led her rivals a merry dance to provide Aidan O’Brien with his first victory in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York.

The daughter of Japanese superstar Deep Impact managed just one win in seven outings as a juvenile last season, albeit her final two outings were at Group One level in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile.

She was a generous-looking 14-1 shot on her reappearance, with the market dominated by the impeccably-bred pair of Noon Star – a daughter of Derby winner Galileo and top-class racemare Midday – and Sea The Stars filly Teona.

However, Ryan Moore navigated Snowfall to the lead from an early stage – and having dictated affairs for much of the extended 10-furlong Group Three contest, she passed the post with three and three-quarter lengths in hand.

Noon Star filled the runner-up spot, with Teona doing well to finish as close as she did in third after pulling fiercely for her head for much of the race.

Bookmaker response was immediate, with Snowfall’s odds slashed for the Cazoo Oaks.

O’Brien said: “We always thought the world of her last year, but things just didn’t work for her.

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“On pedigree she was always going to be suited by a step up in trip, (and) Ryan gave her a lovely ride.

“It’s a beautiful pedigree, and we always thought a race like that would suit.

“I would think the Oaks will be the plan, but we’ll all have a chat.

“Things just didn’t work out for her last season – hopefully she goes on and has a good year.”

Kevin Buckley, owners Coolmore’s UK representative, said: “Aidan has always thought a lot of her, and we were fairly hopeful with the step up in trip. Her pedigree suggested that would be to her liking, and those thoughts were vindicated.

“It’s the first time we’ve won the Musidora. We’ve hit the crossbar twice, with Together Forever (2015) and Twirl (2012).

“We were definitely thinking a mile and a half would suit. She’s out of a full-sister to Found by Deep Impact, so there’s everything there to suggest the distance of the Oaks won’t be a problem.

“She showed a really good attitude.”

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Noon Star’s owners Juddmonte, said: “Obviously the lack of pace was not ideal, to say the least – she’s a filly who does stay and will stay.

“We’ll get her back, make sure she’s ok, make sure Michael (trainer Sir Michael Stoute) and the family are happy – and then we’ll take it from there.

“I don’t think there’s any need for any precipitous decisions at the moment.

“These are trials. This is what they are there for – they are sent to try us.”

Teona’s trainer Roger Varian described himself as more frustrated than disappointed.

He said: “It was a messy race. Unfortunately she reared up in the gates, missed the break – and that meant after 50 yards you sort of knew how the race would be run.

“It’s slightly unsatisfying, but I’ve lost no faith in the filly – I think she’s very nice. Everything that could go wrong today did, but on a positive note she’s had a day out and will come on for the run. She’s been fresh all day today and hopefully she’ll be more professional next time.

“She’s got loads of talent, and I haven’t lost faith because the race was run at a crawl. If we’d broken better maybe we could have done something about it.

“It’s frustrating more than disappointing – judge her more next time. I’ll speak to the owner about the Oaks, but I wouldn’t be discouraged on what happened today. We live to fight another day.”

High Definition declared in search of Dante honours

High Definition is one of 11 colts declared for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.

Unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile, Aidan O’Brien’s charge spent the winter months as clear favourite for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom.

The Galileo colt missed his intended comeback run in last Saturday’s Lingfield Derby Trial following an unsatisfactory blood test result, but is set to appear on the Knavesmire five days later.

O’Brien has a second string to his bow in outsider Roman Empire, while Irish hopes are also carried by Jim Bolger’s Flying Visit.

The latter was last seen finishing second in the Ballysax Stakes to O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet, who is now the hot favourite for the Derby after his latest triumph in last weekend’s Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

The home team is headed by the Mark Johnston-trained Gear Up, who won the Acomb Stakes at York last summer and rounded off his two-year-old campaign with Group One success in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

John Gosden, who now trains in partnership with son Thady, saddled the last horse to complete the Dante-Derby double in Golden Horn.

Six years on, the Clarehaven team is represented by Uncle Bryn, who lost his unbeaten record when third in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom on his seasonal debut, as well as Megallan.

Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas runs Sandown Classic Trial winner

Alenquer (right) winning at Sandown
Alenquer (right) winning at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hurricane Lane (Charlie Appleby), Belloccio (David Menuisier), Pythagoras (Richard Fahey) and Royal Champion (Roger Varian) complete the line-up.

An hour earlier Group Two honours are up for grabs in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes, for which six runners are set to go to post.

O’Brien’s Passion is joined in the trip across the Irish Sea by the Jessica Harrington-trained Silence Please, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen Power the leading British-trained contender after finishing second in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket.

Cabeletta (Varian), Chamade (Ralph Beckett) and Freyja (Johnston) are the other hopefuls.

Bolshoi Ballet powers to Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial demolition

Bolshoi Ballet leapt to the head of the Cazoo Derby ante-post market with an impressive trial victory at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt was far too good for his rivals in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes – a race which has been springboard to a succession of the Ballydoyle trainer’s champions over the years.

Ryan Moore tracked big outsider Wexford Soil in the early stages of the Group Three, before taking over with three furlongs to run and quickly scooting clear with a quarter of a mile to run.

The outcome was instantly beyond doubt, and the even-money favourite crossed the line six lengths clear of his vain pursuers, led by stablemate Lough Derg.

Mac Swiney failed to boost his Derby prospects by managing only a near seven-length fourth.

Bolshoi Ballet, who was following up his course-and-distance victory in the Ballysax Stakes last month, was quickly promoted to outright favouritism for next month’s Derby – at as short as 7-4 with Coral, as he follows a route famously trod by his sire.

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He had previously shared the top of the market at around 5-1 with unbeaten stablemate High Definition, who had to miss his intended prep run in Lingfield’s Derby Trial on Saturday because of a poor blood test but may yet be in action in the Dante Stakes at York this week.

O’Brien was notable among the admirers of Bolshoi Ballet’s performance.

“He’s very uncomplicated, quickens, relaxes,” he said.

“We always loved him. He travelled to France last year (fifth in the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud) in ground that we knew he wouldn’t like – but we wanted to travel him for experience.

“We are delighted with that and we couldn’t have asked for any more from him.

“There was an even pace which was great. He quickened well and he gets it (the trip).”

Moore added: “He’s a very professional horse and was always travelling beautifully through the race. He’s very smooth and ticks a lot of boxes.

“It was a proper test today, and that will stand him in good stead for what comes next.

“It’s very windy, and inexperienced horses are getting knocked around. He has a super attitude and is a straightforward horse.”

O’Brien confirmed High Definition still has a chance of taking part in Thursday’s Derby trial at York, which he reiterated is paramount for his participation at Epsom.

He said: “High Definition will do a bit in the morning, and we are hoping that he might go to York.

“His blood count is still coming down – it’s not 100 per cent yet, but it’s a lot better than it was. It’s nearly there.

“We need to run obviously. He has to get out if he’s going to the Derby.

“He’s not been medicated, because we couldn’t find anything.”

Joan Of Arc enters Irish Guineas picture

Aidan O’Brien’s Joan Of Arc dominated the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

The 11-4 favourite, ridden by Ryan Moore, was in front after a furlong and stayed there without ever having to come under strong pressure.

Joan Of Arc was restating her case for a clutch of high-profile entries in top races over the coming months, having failed to build on her Curragh maiden victory when only sixth in a similar trial over seven furlongs here last month.

Up to a mile in this Group Three, the daughter of Galileo – a full-sister to Classic winners Gleneagles and Marvellous – always appeared in control and had a length and three-quarters in hand at the line.

Her nearest pursuer was 50-1 shot Flirting Bridge, with the same distance back to another outsider Thinking Of You (40-1) in third.

Paddy Power reacted by halving Joan Of Arc’s odds for both Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes (into 8-1) and the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom (into 10-1) next month.

O’Brien said: “The last day was a bit of a non-event for her, but she came out of it lovely.

“The plan was to come back here, and then maybe go to the Irish Guineas.

“Ryan said she might stay a bit further so we’re very happy with that. She’s a very relaxed filly.”

Mac Swiney aiming to underline Classic claims in Derrinstown

A week on from teaming up to land the Qipco 2000 Guineas, Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning unleash another potential Classic contender at Leopardstown on Sunday when Mac Swiney returns to action for the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

The veteran trainer and jockey combination struck gold in a thrilling renewal of the Newmarket showpiece, with Poetic Flare following in the hoofprints of his sire Dawn Approach as he came out in top in a pulsating three-way finish.

Mac Swiney, winner of the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on his final appearance as a juvenile, was also under consideration for the Guineas, but Bolger ultimately decided to split his aces.

“I’m very happy with Mac Swiney,” he said.

“I’m staying at a mile with Poetic Flare. He’s come out of Newmarket well and hopefully he’ll be ready to run for Paris (French 2000 Guineas) on Sunday week.

“Mac Swiney will be running over a mile and a quarter at Leopardstown and we’ll take it from there.”

The Coolcullen handler is hoping Mac Swiney can earn himself a shot at the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, which Bolger and Manning famously won with his sire New Approach in 2008.

Mac Swiney and jockey Kevin Manning after winning at the Curragh
Mac Swiney and jockey Kevin Manning after winning at the Curragh (PA)

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Although the chestnut colt’s high-profile juvenile wins in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh and at Doncaster came in soft and heavy ground, Bolger would not be concerned by quicker conditions.

“He’ll go on any ground,” the trainer added.

Mac Swiney’s biggest threat appears to be Bolshoi Ballet, who will bid to provide Aidan O’Brien with his 14th Derrinstown victory.

Subsequent Epsom heroes Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) are among the former Ballydoyle superstars to win this key trial, as well as the brilliant stayer Yeats (2004).

Just like Galileo, High Chaparral and Yeats, Bolshoi Ballet lines up off the back of winning the Ballysax Stakes over the same course and distance four weeks ago.

Bolshoi Ballet (centre) winning the Ballysax Stakes
Bolshoi Ballet (centre) winning the Ballysax Stakes (PA)

O’Brien said: “It was always the plan to go for the Derrinstown after he won the Ballysax.

“Everything has gone well with him since and he seems to be in good form.

“We’re happy with him and looking forward to his run.”

O’Brien has a second string to his bow in Lough Derg, who won on his Dundalk debut before finishing fourth in the Ballysax, while son Donnacha saddles the sixth from the same race in Fernando Vichi and his brother Joseph runs course-and-distance winner Southern Lights.

Joseph O’Brien told Betfair: “Southern Lights is a gorgeous horse that we’ve always had high hopes for.

“We really liked his performance when he won a maiden over this course and distance last month. He is a very laid-back character and he seemed to wake up as the race progressed. It was a really pleasing performance.

“This is obviously a huge step up in class for him, but he has earned the chance to be tested in a race like this and we can’t wait to see how he measures up.”

Jessica Harrington’s Ballysax third Taipan, the Ger Lyons-trained Team Of Firsts and Bolger’s possible pacemaker Wexford Soil complete the line-up.

The Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial is preceded by two other Group Three contests in the Amethyst Stakes and the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial.

Joseph O'Brien has a strong hand in the Amethyst Stakes
Joseph O’Brien has a strong hand in the Amethyst Stakes (PA)

The Amethyst field is headed by the Ado McGuinness-trained Bowerman and also features three runners from Joseph O’Brien’s yard in Numerian, Raise You and Snapraeterea.

“Raise You seems to have benefited from being gelded and made a winning return to action in a handicap at the Curragh last time. This is obviously a much stronger race, but he has the class to be competitive in this sort of company,” O’Brien added.

“Numerian has been a shade disappointing in his two runs this season, but he seems to be on his way back and has the form in the book to be competitive at this level.

“Snapraeterea hit the frame in a couple of Stakes races last season, but was a bit disappointing on his return to action at Leopardstown. He takes on his elders here and it is a stiff task on paper.”

The Lyons-trained Acanella bids to follow up an impressive debut success over the course and distance in the Guineas Trial, with Paddy Twomey’s Fantasy Lady and Dermot Weld’s Curragh scorer Shandra among her rivals.

Armory makes it look easy in Huxley Stakes

Armory proved a class above his rivals as he made a successful start to his campaign in the Melodi Media Huxley Stakes at Chester, with a step back up to the highest level next on the agenda.

The Galileo colt brought some top-class form to the table from last season, having finished fourth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Tattersalls Gold Cup, third in the Irish Champion Stakes and second to former stablemate Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate in Australia.

He was the 6-5 favourite to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a third victory in this Group Two contest – and after settling at the rear of the four-strong field for much of the race, quickly found top gear under Ryan Moore in the straight to leave his rivals toiling.

Sangarius filled the runner-up spot, beaten three lengths by the impressive winner.

Armory (left) sweeps to the front
Armory (left) sweeps to the front (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

O’Brien said: “We were delighted. He’s really matured.

“I suppose what he has is an unbelievable turn of foot, which is a great thing in a horse because you don’t mind if they go fast or they go slow, as he quickens very well.

“He’s done very well over the winter, he had a lovely run in Australia last year but things didn’t really work out for him so we’re delighted.

“We were thinking after this he might go for the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Prince of Wales’s, but probably the Prince of Wales’s.

“He has plenty of pace, but we always thought he’d get 10 furlongs – when you have a horse who quickens like that it’s a bonus, and Ryan gave him a lovely ride.”

Moore said: “I was very happy with him. He was a high-class two-year-old.

“He has form on soft ground, but when it’s quicker he can show his turn of foot. It was a steady race today, a messy race but he’s got a really good change of gear.

“He’s very talented. I don’t know what the plan but he’s won a Group Two there and he’s already been second in a Cox Plate, (so) he’s entitled to take his place at a higher level.”

High Definition left in Dante at confirmation stage

High Definition is among 18 confirmations for Thursday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York.

Aidan O’Brien’s unbeaten colt lost his position at the head of the ante-post market on the Cazoo Derby after an unsatisfactory blood test earlier this week.

O’Brien had intended to run the son of Galileo in Saturday’s Derby Trial at Lingfield, but there is a chance he could reappear on the Knavesmire should all go well in the meantime, with the Ballydoyle admitting it would be “very hard” to go to Epsom without a prep race.

Aidan O'Brien and Seamie Heffernan with High Definition
Aidan O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan with High Definition (PA)

O’Brien has also left in Hector De Maris, Matchless, Roman Empire, Sir Lamorak, Van Gogh and Wordsworth.

One trainer who has always had this race in mind for his Derby hope is Mark Johnston with Gear Up.

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The only Group One winner left among the potential field having won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 10 furlongs last year, Gear Up will be making his seasonal reappearance.

“All is well. The Derby seems to be quite wide open, but no one seems to be talking about us!” said Johnston.

“He’s a Group One-winning two-year-old with York form.

“He’s only got one blot on his copybook when Franny (Norton) felt he didn’t make enough use of him in the Royal Lodge.

“Franny is the only one to be beaten on him, but I wouldn’t hold that against him as he told us as much about the horse as anybody. I don’t know who rides him next week yet.”

John Leeper, one of the most beautifully-bred horses in training being by Frankel out of Snow Fairy, will aim to build on his impressive Newcastle success for Ed Dunlop.

Charlie Appleby’s Hurricane Lane is another unbeaten contender, with stablemate Adayar also standing his ground, although he is declared to run at Lingfield on Saturday.

John and Thady Gosden could be doubly represented by Newcastle Listed winner Megallan and Uncle Bryn, who lost his perfect record in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom.

William Haggas’ Alenquer, the Sandown Classic Trial winner, may also run.

On the same card is the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes, for which nine remain.

Jessica Harrington can call upon Cayenne Pepper and Silence Please, while O’Brien’s sole representative is Passion.

Chamade (Ralph Beckett), Cabaletta (Roger Varian), Bharani Star (Peter Chapple-Hyam), Freyja (Johnston), Oriental Star (David Simcock) and Queen Power (Sir Michael Stoute) complete the list.

Japan starts season off following the ‘St Nic’ route

Aidan O’Brien has high hopes Japan can follow in the footsteps of St Nicholas Abbey, having got his career back on track with victory in the tote+ Pays You More At tote.co.uk Ormonde Stakes.

‘St Nic’s’ best days seemed behind him when he arrived at Chester in 2011 as a four-year-old, having missed the Derby – for which he was favourite – and been well beaten on his return from a lengthy lay off.

He blitzed his rivals that day, though, and never looked back. He won the Coronation Cup on his next outing and added the Breeders’ Cup Turf, another two Coronation Cups and the Sheema Classic to his CV. So should Japan emulate that haul, then O’Brien will be happy.

Japan landed the Grand Prix de Paris and Juddmonte International as a three-year-old, but went winless last season, so a confidence-boosting win over Ascot Gold Cup hopeful Trueshan, who emerged with plenty of credit, was just what the doctor ordered.

“We were delighted. Last year we started him in a very competitive race (Prince of Wales’s), and it just didn’t work out through the year – but obviously nothing was straightforward last year, and his season went into reverse afterwards,” said O’Brien.

“We used this race with St Nic before, and he got into a good place afterwards – so we’re hoping this horse might do the same.

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“Obviously he’s in the Coronation, and that is kind of what we had one eye if everything went well. He ran well in a Derby there (third). It was all about confidence today and getting him started.”

Japan has previously mixed his races over 10 and 12 furlongs – yet despite this victory over almost a mile and three-quarters, he will not be experimenting with Cup races.

“He definitely wouldn’t be running over anything further than today, we’d be going back in trip rather than forwards,” said O’Brien.

“The plan was the Coronation, and then we’ll see. We’ve others to think about as well, and he’s got very good form over a mile and a quarter, but we’ll go over a mile and a half with him next.”

Ryan Moore was on board and insisted he had never doubted Japan’s class.

“He’s a beautiful horse who we’ve always held in high regard, and he’s won a Juddmonte,” he said.

“Hopefully that will give him a bit of confidence. He didn’t really enjoy that dead ground. He’s a lovely looking horse with a great mind and hopefully he can go on from here.

“The Coronation Cup is an option – he ran well in the Derby there, and this should set him up for the bigger races later in the year. I’d expect him to come on from this as well. He’s got some class – I’ve always had a very high opinion of this horse.”

The rider added: “The ground is just sticky enough for him, and the trip probably stretches him, but he has loads of class and it’s good that he’s come back with a win.”

Giving Japan a real race – and a weight concession of 5lb to the 13-8 favourite – was Trueshan, and Alan King was understandably delighted with his Champions Day hero, who will now head for the Ascot Gold Cup.

The Barbury Castle trainer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with him and I’ve just spoken to (jockey) Hollie (Doyle), and she feels the same.

“It’s great to get him out and get him started, and I think he’s run a terrific race. I’m very pleased.

“He’s a wee bit slow out (of the stalls), and you just have to roust him a little bit, but Hollie got him into a lovely position – and all in all it was a terrific run.

“That (Gold Cup) will be his next stop if the ground is right. We’ll just have to see what the weather does in June.”

Japan prevails from Trueshan in Ormonde Stakes

Japan stamped his class on the tote+ Pays You More At tote.co.uk Ormonde Stakes at Chester.

A narrowly-beaten third in the 2019 Derby at Epsom, the Galileo colt went on to win the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp and the Juddmonte International at York, before finishing fifth on his final start of the year in the Arc.

Japan might have failed to add to his tally last season, but was still placed in the Eclipse and the King George, so it was no surprise to see Aidan O’Brien’s charge go off as the clear favourite as he had his sights lowered to Group Three company but up in trip for his seasonal reappearance.

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Always travelling strongly in the hands of Ryan Moore, the 13-8 chance tracked Alan King’s Long Distance Cup winner Trueshan – who was giving 5lb to the winner – into the straight, before displaying a superior change of gear to run him down and ultimately prevail by three-quarters of a length.

Moore said: “”He’s a beautiful horse who we’ve always held in high regard and he’s won a Juddmonte. Hopefully that will give him a bit of confidence, he didn’t really enjoy that dead ground. He’s a lovely looking horse with a great mind and hopefully he can go on from here.

“The Coronation Cup is an option, he ran well in the Derby there and this should set him up for the bigger races later in the year. I’d expect him to come on from this as well. He’s got some class – I’ve always had a very high opinion of this horse.”

The rider added: “The ground is just sticky enough for him and the trip probably stretches him, but he has loads of class and it’s good that he’s come back with a win.”

King was understandably delighted with his Champions Day hero Trueshan, who will now head for the Ascot Gold Cup.

The Barbury Castle trainer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with him and I’ve just spoken to Hollie and she feels the same.

“It’s great to get him out and get him started and I think he’s run a terrific race. I’m very pleased.

“He’s a wee bit slow out (of the stalls) and you just have to roust him a little bit, but Hollie got him into a lovely position and all in all it was a terrific run.

“That (Gold Cup) will be his next stop if the ground is right. We’ll just have to see what the weather does in June.”

O’Brien monitoring High Definition with view to fitting in Derby trial

Aidan O’Brien was on Thursday not ruling out the possibility of running Cazoo Derby favourite High Definition in the Dante Stakes at York next week.

The Ballydoyle handler had hoped to test the unbeaten colt’s Epsom credentials in Saturday’s Novibet Derby Trial at Lingfield, but announced on Wednesday evening he would not be travelling across the Irish Sea due to unsatisfactory blood test results.

Next Thursday’s Dante Stakes is one of the few Derby trials remaining – and O’Brien admits he faces a race against time to give High Definition a run if he is to head for Epsom on June 5.

“His blood count didn’t come back proper – his SAA (Serum Amyloid A) was very high and that is usually an indication of inflammation or infection somewhere, but we couldn’t find either anywhere in his body,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

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“He scoped perfect this morning. Maybe it was just one of those things, but we’ll do his bloods every day going forward and see.

“He’s in the Dante and we’ll see what happens over the next few days.”

O’Brien – who confirmed Santa Barbara on course for the Oaks – added: “When that (SAA) marker was high, we wouldn’t usually run with it and we just didn’t want to take a chance.

“It’s a bit of a pity because we were looking forward to it (Lingfield) and the timing and everything was good.

Aidan O'Brien (left) with High Definition
Aidan O’Brien (left) with High Definition (PA)

“The Derby has always been his plan and it would be very hard to go into the Derby without a run.

“For us, we need to be getting out, because with the travelling you’d like a bit of time between their first and their second run.

“Hopefully it might come together in the next few days and we’ll be able to start somewhere.”

Speaking later in the day, after Japan’s victory in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, O’Brien added: “We’ve just been trying to split up all the horses rather than running them against each other. He was high enough yesterday, but today it was better so that’s encouraging.

“The Dante normally is a little bit close to the Derby, but there’s a little bit longer this year and that is probably what we’ll look at. He’ll have to improve every day and go forwards.

“If they (bloods) all came back normal and it had settled down then it’s very possible. Realistically you couldn’t go to the Derby without a run.”

High Definition to miss Lingfield Derby Trial

Cazoo Derby favourite High Definition will miss his intended prep run for Epsom at Lingfield this weekend.

The Galileo colt won each of his two starts as a juvenile, with his striking performance in the Group Two Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in September ensuring he spent the winter months at the head of ante-post lists for the premier Classic.

After saddling Mother Earth to win the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last weekend, trainer Aidan O’Brien confirmed Lingfield’s Novibet Derby Trial as the likely starting point for High Definition’s campaign on Saturday.

However, speaking on Wednesday evening, O’Brien ruled his charge out of a trip across the Irish Sea this weekend.

He said: “High Definition won’t be going to Lingfield on Saturday – his bloods just weren’t 100 per cent this evening.

“I’m not sure where he might run. We’ll just have to wait and see how things go over the coming days really.

“We’ll have to play it by ear and see how he is when things settle down.”

Champions Day hero Trueshan clashes with Japan at Chester

Alan King expects his Qipco British Champions Day hero Trueshan to improve for the run when he makes his seasonal reappearance in the tote+ Pays You More At tote.co.uk Ormonde Stakes at Chester on Thursday.

The French-bred gelding won three of his five starts last season, rounding off his campaign with victory in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October – the first leg of a double on the high-profile card for record-breaking rider Hollie Doyle.

With Doyle once again in the saddle, Trueshan makes his belated return to action over an extended mile and five furlongs on the Roodee.

King said: “We’ve been waiting on a bit of softer ground. We didn’t want to start him off in the Sagaro (at Ascot) or the Further Flight (at Nottingham) because it was too firm.

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“The trip is probably short enough for him and you know what Chester is like, but it’s all about getting a run into him and getting him started really.”

The Barbury Castle handler hopes the Group Three contest will act as a stepping-stone to a potential tilt at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

He added: “The Gold Cup is the plan, ground permitting. If we get a scorching June then we won’t be running, but that would be the target and this race fits in time-wise.

“I had him in the Yorkshire Cup next week, but I didn’t want to wait for that and then the ground dried up again. We sort of said that wherever we got the first decent ground he would take his chance, so that’s what we’re doing.

“He’s in good order, but I think he’ll come on for it.”

Japan (near side) winning the 2019 Juddmonte International
Japan (near side) winning the 2019 Juddmonte International (Nigel French/PA)

High on the list of dangers to Trueshan is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan, who has his sights lowered following eight consecutive outings in Group One company.

Japan struck gold twice at the highest level in 2019, in the Grand Prix de Paris and the Juddmonte International – and while he failed to get his head in front last season, he was placed in the Eclipse at Sandown and the King George at Ascot.

Jockey Ryan Moore told Betfair: “Ideally, we probably could have done without all the recent rain, but he finished fourth in a deep ground Arc a couple of years ago and is pretty versatile, and hopefully his Group One class will see him through.

“It’s a good race, with the likes of Trueshan in here, but my horse is unpenalised for his Group One wins back in 2019 and his third in the Eclipse last year makes him the one beat form-wise

“This is the longest trip he has faced, but the way in which he has finished off his races over a mile and a half when at his best suggests it should not be an issue. It’ll take a very good one to beat him if he is on his A-game.”

Conditions appear to have come right for the Andrew Balding-trained Morando, who won the latest renewal in 2019 and returns to defend his crown, while Roger Charlton saddles his veteran stayer Withhold.

Euchen Glen (Jim Goldie), Kipps (Hughie Morrison), Sextant (Keith Dalgleish) and Sonnyboyliston (Murtagh) complete the field.

Ontario latest Dee day contender for O’Brien

Ontario bids to continue Aidan O’Brien’s recent domination of the tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes at Chester on Thursday.

The Ballydoyle handler has saddled six of the last eight winners of the recognised Derby trial, with multiple Group One winner Circus Maximus landing the most recent renewal in 2019.

Although this year’s candidate has managed only one victory from eight previous starts, he has run some fine races in defeat, perhaps most notably finishing a close-up third behind Derby prospect and subsequent Group One scorer Mac Swiney in the Futurity Stakes.

Ontario made a promising start to the new campaign when third behind the Queen’s Tactical in the Free Handicap at Newmarket three weeks ago, and steps up to an extended mile and a quarter for the first time on the Roodee.

Ontario will be ridden by Ryan Moore, who told Betfair: “He looks to hold pretty strong claims.

“He finished a good third in what appears a decent Free Handicap on his return, and his pedigree would give you every encouragement that the step up from seven to 10 furlongs or so here will suit this Galileo colt a lot better.

“He finished second in a Royal Lodge at two, while he also finished third to Mac Swiney in soft ground in the Futurity at the Curragh, so you’d have to be pretty hopeful, though his draw (stall seven) could have been better, obviously.”

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The likely favourite for the Listed contest is the Charlie Appleby-trained Yibir, who was narrowly beaten in the Sandown Classic Trial on his reappearance.

Yibir is a high-class prospect for Charlie Appleby
Yibir is a high-class prospect for Charlie Appleby (Tim Goode/PA)

A full-brother to top-class racemare Wild Illusion, the son of Dubawi is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.

“He’s sharpened up for that run at Sandown quite noticeably at home,” said Appleby.

“We’re putting the cheekpieces on him, just because he’s got similar characteristics to his sister – it’s not that he’s ungenuine, it’s just to keep him focussed.

“We didn’t want to put the cheekpieces on and step him up to a mile and a half at the same time, so we opted to keep him to 10 furlongs.”

Sir Michael Stoute trained the last horse to complete the Dee Stakes-Derby double in 2003 victor Kris Kin.

This year the master of Freemason Lodge is represented by Maximal, who filled the runner-up spot behind Appleby’s Hurricane Lane in a competitive conditions race at Newbury last month.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner-breeders Juddmonte, said: “He ran a good race at Newbury and has come out of it well – he’s been straightforward since.

“It’s a good spot for him. He’s a neat horse and I think he will handle the track.

“He will need to have come on as this looks a pretty competitive race all round, I would say.

“The going is a little bit of an unknown, but he is by Galileo, so hopefully he’ll cope with it.”

The most inexperienced horse in the field with just two runs under his belt is Andrew Balding’s Foxes Tales.

Second on his racecourse debut at Kempton in December, the Zoffany colt went one better on his three-year-old debut at Newbury.

The trainer’s wife, Anna Lisa Balding, said: “He’s a really nice horse, Foxes Tales – he’s so good looking. He’s done nothing wrong so far and has physically gone the right way.

“Andrew has been quite patient with him and the jockeys who ride him at home really like him.”

Earlswood (Johnny Murtagh), El Drama (Roger Varian) and outsider Luther Cee (Henry Spiller) are the other hopefuls.