Tag Archive for: Epsom

Ylang Ylang leads 15-strong Oaks field

Ante-post favourite Ylang Ylang heads 15 confirmations for Friday’s Betfred Oaks at Epsom.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Ylang Ylang won the Fillies’ Mile on her final juvenile start and posted a fine effort on her 2024 bow, when beaten a length by Elmalka in finishing fifth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

O’Brien also has Lingfield Oaks Trial second Rubies Are Red in the mix, along with Buttons, Everlasting and Opera Singer, who are all due to run in Sunday’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Dermot Weld is set to field leading fancy Ezeliya, winner of the Salsabil Stakes on her return, with fourth-placed Caught U Looking also in contention for Noel Meade.

Forest Fairy (left) is one of four challengers for Ralph Beckett
Forest Fairy (left) is one of four challengers for Ralph Beckett (Mike Egerton/PA)

The home defence is headed by the Ralph Beckett-trained pair of Chester Oaks winner Forest Fairy and Lingfield winner You Got To Me, who had half a length in hand of Rubies Are Red earlier in the month.

Beckett has also left in Lingfield third Treasure, who is owned by the King and Queen, and Seaward, who filled the same position behind Forest Fairy at Chester.

Musidora victor Secret Satire is Andrew Balding’s hope with the possible line up completed by Dance Sequence, Making Dreams and War Chimes.

Emily Upjohn will face a maximum of nine rivals as she tries to defend her Holland Cooper Coronation Cup title.

Emily Upjohn won last year's Coronation Cup
Emily Upjohn won last year’s Coronation Cup (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Fifth behind Rebel’s Romance in the Sheema Classic at Meydan in March, she is a general odds-on favourite to make a winning start in Britain this term.

O’Brien has four to choose from, although Auguste Rodin is due to run in Sunday’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

Last year’s St Leger hero Continuous, Luxembourg and Hans Andersen are the other Ballydoyle runners to stand their ground.

The Harry Charlton-trained Time Lock finished second on her return in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket and she is a notable addition to the field, with connections stumping up £25,000 to add her to the Group One event.

William Haggas has both Dubai Honour and Hamish engaged, with French contender Feed The Flame and White Birch rounding out the contenders, but the last-named runner is also declared in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Murray backing Dallas Star to belie Derby longshot status

Adrian Murray does not believe Dallas Star is a complete no-hoper in the Betfred Derby despite his big odds.

A 40-1 chance with the sponsors even though he won the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown by three lengths, Murray feels he is being underestimated.

Part of the reason may be that he was an even bigger price that day at 50-1 on his first run for Murray since leaving Dominic Ffrench Davis, and also possibly because his victory in early April already seems a long time ago.

For Murray, though, who enjoyed Royal Ascot success with 150-1 chance Valiant Force last year, just being involved in the Debry is a dream come true.

“He’s doing very well. The plan after he won the last day was to go straight to Epsom,” he said.

Adrian Murray with Seamie Heffernan after the Ballysax, David Egan will take over at Epsom
Adrian Murray with Seamie Heffernan after the Ballysax, David Egan will take over at Epsom (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We had never planned to take him to another trial and we’ve been very happy with him since. He’s improving all the time and we’re looking forward to it, we’re hoping for a big run.

“We probably weren’t expecting that big a run in the Ballysax but you never know with horses from two to three. Some will disappoint you, while some get you more excited, but he’s improved a lot from two to three.

“We think he’s improved again since the Ballysax. We gave him a racecourse gallop at Naas and we were very happy with him. David Egan will be riding, I would imagine.”

Murray went on: “For me to have a runner in the Derby is unbelievable. I’ve been watching the Derby all my life, so it’s going to be a huge experience.

“I suppose I’d be happy if it rained. He looked very, very good on heavy ground at Leopardstown and I don’t really know much about him on quicker ground, it was quicker at Naas on Monday but if I had the choice, I would prefer cut in the ground.

“I would be expecting that we have an each-way chance, he’s not going there as a no-hoper. We’re very excited about him, he won a recognised trial in good style and he’s come forward from it.”

Haggas rules out Derby bid for Economics

William Haggas has confirmed his runaway Dante Stakes winner Economics will not run in the Betfred Derby at Epsom on Saturday week.

Initially entered for the premier Classic, the Night Of Thunder colt was withdrawn prior to last week’s six-length victory at York, with Haggas saying: “The whole point of taking him out was I didn’t think it was the right track and the right race for him at this stage of his career.”

Having won one of the key Derby trials so impressively, there were inevitably calls for connections to supplement Economics at a cost of £75,000 – but after discussions with owner Sheikh Isa Salman Al Khalifa, Haggas has announced he will not be added to the field on Monday.

He told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “We want to give him more time, he’s a big lovely, scopey horse.

“It’s a shame these races come up so quickly and he just needs some more time, that’s my view.

“He’s Sheikh Isa’s horse, but he’s very respectful of his trainers and he felt with Jake (Warren, racing manager) that we made a team decision. We discussed this at length before the Dante and my view never changed, but obviously it’s a huge race and with fancied horses falling by the wayside the temptation became greater.

“The Derby is the Derby and while we might go over a mile and a half later in the year, at the moment we feel that a mile and a quarter is good for him. He’s got plenty of speed, he’s by Night Of Thunder.

“It’s my job to look after the horse to the best of my ability and if that’s not good enough so be it.”

Economics was impressive at York
Economics was impressive at York (Mike Egerton/PA)

With next weekend’s Prix du Jockey Club also ruled out, future plans for Economics remain fluid.

Haggas added: “We’ll know at the end of the season how well the Dante works out, but I don’t know where we will see him next. I just want to let him mature, he’s an enormous horse and can do so much more physically, that’s what is exciting me.

“It’s hard enough to get a nice horse, it’s another thing to ruin one.

“We think and hope the fact he bled at York was because he banged his head on the stall. We’ve scoped him since and it was fine.”

Kimpton Down Oaks squad strong on quality and quantity

Ralph Beckett is fine tuning plans for his potential Betfred Oaks contenders.

The Kimpton Down Stables trainer has built up a particularly strong hand for the Epsom fillies’ Classic this term, beginning with Forest Fairy’s victory in the Cheshire Oaks in early May.

Behind her in third was stablemate Seaward, with two more fillies then throwing their own hats into the ring in the Oaks Trial at Lingfield three days later.

You Got To Me was the victor there, with the King and Queen’s Treasure behind her in fourth when only beaten a length and three quarters.

The winners of those two races are intended participants at Epsom, whereas Seaward is a possible alongside Musidora third Classical Song, but Treasure is more likely to head in the direction of Royal Ascot.

You Got To Me winning the William Hill Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes
You Got To Me winning the William Hill Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes (Steven Paston/PA)

“All things being equal, the two trial winners will turn up,” the trainer said.

“Seaward has trained well since the Cheshire Oaks, but while Treasure is a possible, I’m inclined to head her to the Ribblesdale.

“Classical Song got a long way back off a strong gallop at York but she’s on course to come here, as long as she trains well in the next week.”

Of You Got To Me, who defeated Aidan O’Brien’s fast-finishing Rubies Are Red at Lingfield, Beckett added: “You Got To Me will come forward again but we will put some different kit in her mouth. She appears to take her racing well.

“I know Aidan’s filly came from Brighton in the Lingfield trial and will be tough to beat, but she’d had a run, which we hadn’t.”

Beckett confident Macduff will cope with Derby distance

Macduff, Deira Mile and the once-raced Voyage are all set to take their chance in the Betfred Derby after getting a sighter of the famous Epsom turf on Tuesday morning.

In all, four hopefuls for the premier Classic took part in the traditional Derby Festival gallops event, with Roger Teal also confirming his French 2000 Guineas runner-up Dancing Gemini an intended runner after he delighted connections in his early-morning workout.

The Ralph Beckett-trained Macduff is a particularly interesting contender, having finished best of the rest behind one-time Derby favourite Arabian Crown in last month’s Sandown Classic Trial.

Arabian Crown has since been ruled out of the Derby after suffering a setback, but Beckett is looking forward to seeing Macduff line up on June 1 after traversing the track in the hands of Rossa Ryan.

He said: “I’m very happy with the horse, he’s a very straightforward customer with the right mindset, who very much enjoys his work and gets on with it.

“He’s well balanced and after a gap since he last ran, we needed to go somewhere and do something. I hope he will come forward for his run (at Sandown).”

While Macduff is a son of the great 2009 Derby winner Sea The Stars, there are mixed signals in his Juddmonte pedigree when it comes to stamina limitations, as he is closely related to star miler Kingman and his dam’s sire is top-class sprinter Bated Breath.

Macduff (left) delighted Ralph Beckett on Tuesday morning
Macduff (left) delighted Ralph Beckett on Tuesday morning (John Walton/PA)

“From his breeding, he shapes more like Sea The Stars than Kingman or Bated Breath in the way he’s made and the way he trains. There’s also more cause for optimism as we go up in trip,” Beckett added.

“I schooled him in the paddock, so he knows where he is. Unlike Westover (third in the 2022 Derby), he doesn’t need much managing. Both horses enjoy life in general but Westover needed managing.

“Rossa is pretty confident Macduff will cope with the hill and the nature of the track.”

Owen Burrows is excited about the prospect of saddling Deira Mile, who rounded off his juvenile campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster and was visually impressive on his reappearance in a novice event at Windsor.

Trainer Owen Burrows (right) walks out with Jim Crowley aboard Deira Mile
Trainer Owen Burrows (right) walks out with Jim Crowley aboard Deira Mile (John Walton/PA)

The Camelot colt is readily available at 66-1 for the Derby, but with ante-post favourite City Of Troy needing to bounce back from a disappointing run in the 2000 Guineas and Charlie Appleby’s hand weakened by Arabian Crown’s setback and the fatal injury suffered by Chester Vase winner Hidden Law, Burrows is keen to roll the dice.

“He had a nice confidence boost round Windsor and we are very happy with him. I have fond memories of Hukum running here, as well as the North Light, Kris Kin and Workforce Derbies when I was with Sir Michael (Stoute),” he said.

“It wouldn’t normally be my style to bring one here (to gallop), but Jim (Crowley) was very positive about everything and I feel it will be of benefit to the horse.

“The trip won’t bother him at all, and with Aidan’s horse (City Of Troy) needing to bounce back and Godolphin having such bad luck at Chester, it’s a wide-open Classic for sure.”

Crowley also feels Deira Mile merits his place in the field, saying: “He’s improved a huge amount since Windsor, while physically he’s done very well. He is surprising me.

“He handled the track very well and I’m very much looking forward to riding him. I think he will stay and he’s a well-balanced horse who is thriving at the moment.

“It’s exciting how well he’s done both mentally and physically and I was impressed with how he switched leads at the right places. It’s a wide-open Derby but one thing for sure is he’s ready to go there.”

Voyage is a potential dark horse in the field for trainer Richard Hannon and owner Julie Wood, having won on his only previous outing at Newbury in mid-April.

Hannon admitted to having some doubts about whether the son of Golden Horn will stay the Derby trip, but was encouraged by what he saw in his Tuesday morning racecourse spin.

He said: “I’m very pleased. When he won first time like he did, we didn’t really know we were there with him. I just hope he’s not too keen, because if he does that, he won’t get the trip. But he’s a good horse, and if he settles anything can happen.

“With the Derby, it’s a lot about horses hiding that we haven’t seen the best of yet. He took me by surprise the way he kept going at Newbury after being so keen. He’s inexperienced but he’s unbeaten, it’s whether he’s good enough.

“Pat (Dobbs) is riding well and rides all of Julie’s. It’s good that she sticks with him.”

Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper
Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper (Simon Cooper/PA)

On the current ground conditions at Epsom, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: “The track is in good nick, just on the slow side of good.

“In the last fortnight, we’ve seen six millimetres of rain, which is drier than normal. Once we get the next 48 hours out of the way, it should be brighter leading up to the meeting.

“It would be quite nice to see a wet day tomorrow.”

Stars align for Dancing Gemini to get Derby go-ahead

Roger Teal has given Dancing Gemini the green light to line up in the Betfred Derby following a pleasing racecourse gallop at Epsom on Tuesday morning.

Twice a winner from five starts as a two-year-old last season, the son of 2012 Derby hero Camelot has already come close to claiming Classic glory this spring, finishing a half-length second to Metropolitan in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, the French 2000 Guineas, at ParisLongchamp.

Another trip across the Channel for the French Derby was under consideration, but having seemingly taken well to the cambered Epsom track in a workout with high-class sprinting stablemate Chipstead, he is poised to take his chance in the world’s most famous Flat race on June 1.

Roger Teal and Will Cox at Epsom
Roger Teal and Will Cox at Epsom (Neil Morrice/PA)

Teal said: “I’m very happy, he looked good coming down the hill. Will (Cox) said he handled the track beautifully and although we didn’t go mad, it was a nice healthy exercise.

“William said it all went well, so I think we will roll our sleeves up and come here. While it’s tempting to go back to France, coming here with a live contender is unbelievable, especially for David Fish and his wife Linda (owners).”

Having never previously raced beyond a mile, Dancing Gemini will be taking a big step into the unknown over a mile and a half in the Derby, but Teal is hopeful his stamina will stand up to the test.

He added: “We actually had discussions about this possibility last year and deduced that although he’s very speedy, he’s bred to be a mile and a half horse. He has such a relaxed manner you can put him to sleep, and I hope we can use his burst of speed at the finish.

“The field has thinned out, which helps us a little bit, and I feel we’ve got to have a crack.

“I have lots of good memories here, as I used to stand in Philip Mitchell’s garden near the start and watch the field go by.

“It’s very exciting to be involved in the Derby this year.”

David Fish, owner-breeder of Dancing Gemini at Epsom
David Fish, owner-breeder of Dancing Gemini, at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

Irish rider Dylan Browne McMonagle was on board Dancing Gemini in the French 2000 Guineas and looks set to be reunited with Teal’s stable star at Epsom next month.

“Dylan couldn’t make it this morning as he’s riding at Cork, but he’s ridden a Listed winner for Mr Fish and we’ve bought into him because he’s a cool cookie, which is what you need on a big raceday,” said the trainer.

Remarquee given Epsom aim before Royal Ascot

Remarquee will head to the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom in a bid to book her ticket to Royal Ascot.

The Ralph Beckett-trained filly was a leading performer at three and after landing the Fred Darling at Newbury on her first start last term, she went on to pick up a silver medal in both the Coronation and Falmouth Stakes later in the summer, where she had the misfortune of bumping into Tahiyra and an on-song Nashwa respectively.

Her final appearance last season was a respectable fourth when sent off the 2-1 favourite for Deauville’s Prix Rothschild, but she somewhat underwhelmed on her 2024 return in the Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield, where she was far too keen and beaten five lengths in fifth.

Connections are expecting Remarquee to take a huge leap forward on her next start as they plot a course to the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at the Royal meeting.

The Wathnan Racing-owned filly is now tasked with following in the footsteps of former stablemate Prosperous Voyage, who claimed the same Derby day Group Three for the Beckett team 12 months ago.

“I think she was very fresh and she was keen to post and just ran all a bit free and fresh,” said Richard Brown, racing adviser for Wathnan.

“Ralph expects her to come on a lot for the run and we think she will and we’ll probably look at the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom on Derby day.

“We’ve said all along we will work backwards from the Duke of Cambridge and we haven’t changed from that plan.”

You Got To Me firing Classic dreams for Valmont

It can take plenty of patience to unearth a Classic contender, but You Got To Me heads to Epsom giving co-owners Valmont plenty to dream about as their considered investment begins to bear fruit.

Owned in conjunction with Newsells Park Stud, the Ralph Beckett-trained daughter of Nathaniel announced herself as a Betfred Oaks contender when making all in the hands of Hector Crouch in Lingfield’s Oaks Trial last weekend.

Cut to as short as 10-1 for Epsom after being given a masterful ride from Crouch, her owners can now begin to envisage their go-to pilot recreating that Lingfield triumph in another undulating part of Surrey later this month.

“She was a filly we always liked last year, but with her physique and her pedigree, she was always going to make a better three-year-old when she stepped up in trip,” explained Alex Elliott, racing adviser for the owners.

“She did it the hard way and didn’t make it easy for herself in the first part of the race, but hopefully the freshness will have left her now and we can ride a bit more of a race on her at Epsom and we’re looking forward to that.

“Hector rides the majority of ours and knows them well. He didn’t get into a fight with her and knows her well from home and I thought he was very good on her.

“Our programme is we buy more of a three-year-old type so it takes a bit of patience and foresight, but these are the races we want to be tackling and hopefully we’re assembling a nice team of horses to do that.”

You Got To Me (left) winning at Lingfield
You Got To Me (left) winning at Lingfield (Steve Paston/PA)

Although not strangers to the winner’s enclosure, the Valmont team, who have been active players at the major sales over the past few seasons, are finally developing a squad of horses that could make their white, pink and blue silks a regular feature in some of the Flat season’s biggest contests.

Four-year-olds Salt Bay and Ngiri have been standout performers for the owners in recent years and continue to ply their trade at a high level.

But now You Got To Me gives them their first real Classic contender, while the likes of Valvano, Feigning Madness and Moon Over Miami could all have big-race aspirations later in the season.

Valvano impressed on his debut at Nottingham last autumn
Valvano impressed on his debut at Nottingham last autumn (Simon Marper/PA)

Valvano was last seen finishing second to 2000 Guineas hero Notable Speech at Kempton, but his own Classic ambitions had to be put on hold following a setback. He is currently working his way back to race fitness as connections still have high hopes for the well-entered son of Night Of Thunder.

“We got a little bit of a hold up with Valvano which meant we had to miss the Derby trials, so we took him out of the Derby,” explained Elliott.

“We’re just letting the horse tell us when he’s ready. We obviously think he’s an exciting prospect and there is no panic with a horse of his potential. Hopefully he is still in line for a big year.”

Setback rules leading fancy Arabian Crown out of Derby

Leading Betfred Derby contender Arabian Crown has been ruled out of the Epsom Classic after suffering a setback.

Winner of three of his four starts as a juvenile including victory in the Group Three Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, the Dubawi colt moved towards the head of the Derby betting following an impressive return in the Sandown Classic Trial last month.

With most of the Derby trials having now taken place, Arabian Crown was clear second-favourite behind Aidan O’Brien’s City Of Troy, but connections have announced he will not line up on June 1.

In a short statement posted on X, Godolphin said: “Unfortunately Arabian Crown will miss the @EpsomRacecourse Derby due to a setback. He will now be aimed at a late summer campaign.”

Arabian Crown’s absence is another significant blow to Godolphin and Charlie Appleby after Hidden Law suffered a fatal injury shortly after passing the post a runaway winner of last week’s Chester Vase.

Appleby’s only remaining Derby contender is Ancient Wisdom, who finished second behind the William Haggas-trained Economics in the Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.

Ancient Wisdom could run in the Derby
Ancient Wisdom could run in the Derby (Nigel French/PA)

Speaking at York on Friday afternoon, Appleby’s assistant Alex Merriam said: “It was a bit sad this morning but hopefully it’s only a fairly minor injury. Hopefully we’ll still have a horse for the late summer, even mid summer, Charlie discussed it with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and thought there was no point in rushing him for the Derby.

“We’ll still have a nice horse for the rest of the summer and years to come.”

Of Ancient Wisdom, he added: “I thought he ran a nice race, he’ll improve a good bit for the run. Whether he goes there (Epsom) or not is something to be discussed with His Highness, but it looks an open Derby and I think he’s got every reason to go there. We’ll see how he comes out of the race.”

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.

“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.”

Ylang Ylang to spearhead O’Brien’s Oaks challenge

A crack at the Betfred Oaks is the “natural progression” for Ylang Ylang, according to Aidan O’Brien.

The Frankel filly only ran one below-par race in her juvenile season, a campaign she ended with victory in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.

She returned to the Rowley Mile for the 1000 Guineas, finishing a staying-on fifth and looking every inch made for the Oaks in the process.

She will be joined at Epsom next month by Rubies Are Red, who really took the eye in coming from way back to take second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial at the weekend.

“We’ve been very happy with Ylang Ylang,” said O’Brien.

“She’s always looked an Oaks filly more than a Guineas filly, but we let her run in the Guineas and she ran very well. Ryan let her find her feet and she was coming home very well.

“She won the first two times ridden forwards, but that was just the way it happened. Then she was a little bit keen and got beaten twice. She ran a shocker in the Moyglare, but then got back in the right mindset and she turned all that form around in the Guineas, they were a good bit behind her so it’s amazing how things can swing around.

“Ryan (Moore) is confident that 10 furlongs will be no problem at all to her and if they stay 10 furlongs, there’s usually a good chance of staying 12 furlongs at Epsom.

“Going from the Guineas to the Oaks is just a natural progression and what we’ve always thought she would do.

“She’s by Frankel and he speaks for himself.”

In contrast to her more decorated stablemate, Rubies Are Red is still a maiden after three starts. She is, however, bred to be good and the daughter of Galileo promises to be much wiser for the experience of Lingfield.

“Rubies Are Red is unusual, she’s a sister to Found. She had a run last year and surprised us,” explained O’Brien.

“She’s just a baby, when we took her to Leopardstown for her maiden we thought she’d still win, but one of Joseph’s (O’Brien, Galileo Dame) beat her easily.

“The plan was always to go to Lingfield and we said we’d stick to it rather than go back for a maiden, but unfortunately she was a bit green coming down the hill and that meant because he was nursing her, she got back a long way and got caught a bit far out of her ground. She’s definitely an Oaks type.

“Ryan said that when he got her levelled she absolutely flew home and she would have won in another couple of strides. Unfortunately she was just all at sea coming down the hill.

“Found was a bit bigger, but this one is a bit stronger. Her run style is very much like Found though, as she wants to take her time and come late. Found didn’t like being in front too long, she’d always think she’d done enough.”

No rush to map out Group One goal for White Birch

White Birch will look to continue the flying start he has made to the new season by claiming a first Group One victory in either the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh or the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

Third behind Auguste Rodin in last year’s Derby, the grey son of Ulysses appears to have taken his game to another level as a four-year-old judged on back-to-back spring victories at the Curragh in the Alleged and Mooresbridge Stakes respectively.

A return to the home of Irish Flat racing for the Tattersalls Gold Cup on May 26 could be next on the agenda for White Birch, although Epsom the following week is also under consideration.

“He’s been very good, it’s been a lovely start and we’re looking forward to the rest of the year,” said trainer John Murphy’s son, George.

“We’re not certain where we’ll go yet, we’re just going to see how he is. He came out of his last race well and we’ll just play it by ear, but he’ll be left in plenty of races and we’ll see how his form is coming up to them.

“The Tattersalls Gold Cup would be an obvious one, or if he needed a bit longer then maybe he’d go to Epsom for the Coronation.

“He’s won his couple of Group Threes now and a Group Two so he’s definitely entitled to have another crack at a Group One, I think.”

Treasure hunting Classic trial glory for the King and Queen

Treasure could emerge as another genuine Classic contender for the King and Queen if she can provide trainer Ralph Beckett with a fourth win in the William Hill Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield.

The King and Queen enjoyed a memorable season last year, with Desert Hero striking Royal Ascot gold before finishing third in his bid to become the first horse since Dunfermline in 1977 to carry the royal colours to Classic success in the St Leger at Doncaster.

Treasure, bred by the late Queen Elizabeth II, looked an exciting prospect when scoring on her racecourse debut at Nottingham in the autumn and returns in a race her trainer has previously landed with Kayah (2007), Secret Gesture (2013) and Honour Bound (2014).

The King with Desert Hero and jockey Tom Marquand at Royal Ascot
The King with Desert Hero and jockey Tom Marquand at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Secret Gesture went on to finish second to stablemate Talent in the Oaks itself and a trip to Epsom will surely loom large for this daughter of Mastercraftsman if she can prove her worth in Surrey this weekend.

John Warren, racing adviser to the King and Queen, said: “Ralph is very happy with Treasure who has the size and scope to be a decent filly.

“We are on a fact-finding mission – and as she has been prepped specifically for this race we will learn where we stand after this to plan her future.”

Beckett, who won the Cheshire Oaks with Forest Fairy earlier in the week, has a second string to his bow in the form of You Got To Me, who has been off the track since finishing fifth in a Listed race at Newmarket in November.

The likely favourite is the John and Thady Gosden-trained Danielle, who created a huge impression when storming a a 12-length success at Wetherby less than a fortnight ago.

However, Gosden senior admits the prospect of drying conditions at Lingfield is a concern.

“The plan is to go to Lingfield with Danielle at the moment and let’s hope that goes well,” he said.

“She won well last time, but obviously I hope the ground stays good. If it dries up then I would be concerned about running her on quick ground.”

Aidan O’Brien relies on the twice-raced maiden Rubies Are Red, with Molten Rock (Karl Burke), Cherry Burton (Sean Woods) and Bigtime Bridget (Michael Bell) the other hopefuls.

City Of Troy staying on Derby path, says O’Brien

City Of Troy remains on course for the Betfred Derby, with his trainer Aidan O’Brien eager to draw a line through his disappointing 2000 Guineas effort.

Part-owner Michael Tabor referred to the son of Justify as “our Frankel” after finishing his two-year-old season unbeaten, with the early part of 2024 filled with Triple Crown dreams and thoughts of matching the achievements of some of the best to ever set foot on a racecourse.

He was sent off the 4-6 favourite in front of an expectant Newmarket crowd for leg one of his three-year-old campaign, with those who flocked to the Rowley Mile ultimately left deflated as City Of Troy trailed home ninth of the 11 starters in the opening Classic of the summer.

O’Brien suggested his star colt was upset in the stalls in the immediate aftermath and went further to explain what happened on Monday, pondering whether he had the three-year-old at concert pitch for his seasonal return.

City Of Troy going to post at Newmarket
City Of Troy going to post at Newmarket (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

He said: “Maybe I left him too fresh, because he went into the stalls and reared up and when he hit the ground they let him go straight away.

“Usually what would happen when they’d rear up like that their heart rate would rise, but they’d usually get a second when they let them go back before they set off. But he went in, got upset and then ‘bang’, out straight away.

“His heart was probably very high, what happens usually those horses usually get into the red zone a lot quicker than they should. So probably he was in the red zone before halfway, so I’d say that’s what happened. But because I’d left him too fresh, I was probably too easy on him and left him too fresh.”

City Of Troy was eased in the Derby market and replaced as favourite by Charlie Appleby’s Arabian Crown following his Guineas reversal, but the master of Ballydoyle has confirmed Epsom remains plan A, where he will attempt to repeat the Derby redemption heroics of Auguste Rodin 12 months ago.

Aidan O’Brien has Epsom in mind for both City Of Troy and Ylang Ylang
Aidan O’Brien has Epsom in mind for both City Of Troy and Ylang Ylang (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“He’ll stay on the same path, you often miss the first one but we’ll just put a line through it,” continued O’Brien.

“He’ll go for the Derby, that’s the pattern he was going and that’s the way he’ll go.”

O’Brien also has Epsom in mind for Ylang Ylang after the Fillies’ Mile winner caught the eye when finishing fifth – beaten only a length – in Sunday’s 1000 Guineas.

She currently heads the betting for the Betfred Oaks with O’Brien saying: “She was working like an Oaks filly, and that’s what she looked like. She’ll go straight to the Oaks. She ran well.”

Bellum Justum stakes Derby claim with Epsom victory

Bellum Justum halved in price for the Derby after Andrew Balding’s colt won the Betfred Blue Riband Trial at Epsom.

While he took four attempts to get off the mark as a juvenile, the form of his win over Kevin Ryan’s Inisherin now looks much stronger than it did at the time and he took another leap forward here.

Ridden by Oisin Murphy, he was content to take a lead off Ryan Moore on Aidan O’Brien’s Chief Little Rock and with those in behind struggling to get on terms, it soon developed into a battle.

Bellum Justum held a narrow advantage for much of the final furlong but while he was well on top of the Ballydoyle runner close home, Roger Varian’s Defiance began to stay on strongly.

Without looking like winning, he closed to within three-quarters of a length of the 9-1 winner, looking promising for the future on just his third outing.

Bellum Justum (left) was too good at Epsom
Bellum Justum (left) was too good at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

Bellum Justum was cut to 25-1 from 50s for the Derby by both Coral and Paddy Power.

“He had a setback about a month ago and he missed 10 days, so he’s entitled to come on for that today,” Balding told Racing TV.

“His form looked pretty strong and he improved a lot with racing last year and he’s entitled to improve from two to three, so we were fairly sure he’d be there or thereabouts but we’re expecting him to come on for it.

“He’s in the Dante and if he was going to run again that would be the likely target, we’ll just see how the Guineas goes and the other trials and we might end up coming back here.

“He’s out of an Oasis Dream mare but he’s closely related to Fox Tal who stayed a mile and a half.

“He’s up there with our best three-year-olds but unfortunately the one we were really excited about, Anzac Day, has had a setback.”

Crystal Delight was an easy winner for Harry Eustace
Crystal Delight was an easy winner for Harry Eustace (John Walton/PA)

Crystal Delight (5-2) made a winning debut for Harry Eustace when leading home stablemate Ziggy in the Lilley Plummer Risks City & Suburban Handicap.

Previously trained by the now-retired William Jarvis, he was sent straight to the front by Jim Crowley and controlled matters from the outset.

He kicked clear over two furlongs out and came home five and a half lengths ahead of Ziggy, who stayed on without ever looking a danger.

“William came as he’s good friends with dad (James Eustace) and we ended up with a couple off him, this one and Duke Of Verona and it’s going well so far,” said Eustace.

“I thought he’d run well as he’s been training well at home. It was a small field and he likes making the running, so I thought we’d be able to set our own fractions and that’s what Jim did, it worked out well.

“I had a mile-and-a-half handicap at York in mind so we’ll see how we go.”

Eustace had to settle for third with Duke Of Verona in the Weatherbys Global Stallions App Great Metropolitan Handicap as Champagne Piaff (5-2 favourite) ran out an easy winner for Gary and Ryan Moore.