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High Definition leading O’Brien squad in Irish Derby

High Definition is on course for Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, although Aidan O’Brien has yet to finalise his full squad for the Curragh Classic.

The Galileo colt was the winter favourite for the Derby at Epsom after winning each of his two juvenile starts, before a blood disorder scuppered a planned Lingfield run and sent him to York’s Dante Stakes for a Classic prep.

High Definition finished third on his return on the Knavesmire and had been expected to line up at Epsom, only for O’Brien and Coolmore to make a late change of plan three days before the Derby which saw him miss out in favour of the Curragh.

O’Brien said: “Everything has been good since he ran at York and the plan is for him to run at the moment.

“We’re happy with him at the moment.”

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After relying on just Bolshoi Ballet at Epsom, O’Brien has a number of contenders at this stage for the Curragh, with a couple possibly making a swift return after running at Ascot last week.

The Mediterranean finished fourth in the King Edward VII Stakes, while Sir Lamorak was a fast-finishing second in the King George V Stakes. Both are in the frame, along with Van Gogh, who was well beaten by stablemate St Mark’s Basilica on his most recent run in the French Derby.

Sir Lamorak ran a big race at Royal Ascot
Sir Lamorak ran a big race at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

O’Brien added: “Some of the Ascot horses will be left in like The Mediterranean and Sir Lamorak. Van Gogh is another we’ve been thinking of and obviously as it gets closer we’ll narrow it down a bit more.”

The Ballydoyle handler also has Arturo Toscanini, Carlisle Bay, Matchless and Wordsworth among eight entries, with Bolshoi Ballet a notable withdrawal after his unplaced Epsom run.

The colt suffered a cut to his hind leg at an early point in the Derby and has not recovered in time to have another crack at Classic glory.

O’Brien said: “He’s back cantering again. Obviously this weekend will come too quick, but he is cantering now.

“I was thinking if we get through next week without a hiccup, then maybe we can start looking for a race for him after that.

“Once we get him back up to full work, which will probably be early to middle of next week, then we can start looking.”

Mojo Star (purple hat) found only Adayar too good at Epsom
Mojo Star (purple hat) found only Adayar too good at Epsom (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Mojo Star defied odds of 50-1 at Epsom and will bid to go one place better in Ireland after being added to the race.

The Richard Hannon-trained colt remains a maiden after three runs, but was only four and a half lengths behind Adayar earlier this month.

Dante winner Hurricane Lane was third at Epsom for Charlie Appleby and could try again, while there is further British representation in the shape of the Martyn Meade-trained Lone Eagle, who was fourth in the Sandown Classic Trial in which Adayar was second.

Irish 2000 Guineas hero Mac Swiney was fourth at Epsom and is in the mix for Jim Bolger, with Johnny Murtagh calling on Earlswood and Donnacha O’Brien running Fernando Vichi.

High Definition set to miss Epsom and run in Irish Derby

High Definition is set to sidestep the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on Saturday and instead run in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh on June 26.

The Galileo colt spent the winter months as ante-post favourite for the premier Classic after coming from the clouds to win the Beresford Stakes in September.

However, his preparation this spring has not been entirely straightforward, with unsatisfactory blood test results ruling him out of his intended comeback run in the Lingfield Derby Trial.

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

Instead, High Definition returned five days later in the Dante Stakes at York – and while he was not disgraced in finishing third on the Knavesmire, O’Brien has revealed he is set to be saved for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby later in the month.

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The Ballydoyle handler still houses the hot favourite for this weekend’s feature in Bolshoi Ballet.

Speaking after saddling Point Lonsdale to win the opening race at the Curragh on Wednesday, O’Brien said: “It looks like Bolshoi Ballet will run at Epsom and High Definition will wait for the Curragh.”

He went on: “Nothing is written in stone until ten o’clock in the morning (final declarations), but it looks like the two horses are going to be split.

“It looks like Bolshoi Ballet is going to Epsom and it looks like High Definition is coming straight here (Curragh). Bolshoi would be our only runner at Epsom – that’s what the lads are thinking to give the two of them a chance at a Derby.

Bolshoi Ballet is set to be Aidan O'Brien's sole representative in the Derby
Bolshoi Ballet is set to be Aidan O’Brien’s sole representative in the Derby (Brian Lawless/PA)

“St Mark’s Basilica and Van Gogh are going to France (Prix du Jockey Club, on Sunday). Kyprios is going to Ascot for the Queen’s Vase and Sir Lamorak might go for the King Edward.

“We were lucky to get the run into High Definition at York and we think he’s a very good horse. A little more time won’t do him any harm.

“It was just to give the two of them a chance until they have to meet. The Curragh Derby is a very important race, as the Epsom Derby is also.

“I’m very happy with both horses. If we didn’t get the run into High Definition then there was no decision to make as if he didn’t run in York then he definitely wouldn’t go to Epsom.”

John Leeper is now set to be ridden by Frankie Dettori
John Leeper is now set to be ridden by Frankie Dettori (Adam Davy/PA)

Frankie Dettori has teamed up with O’Brien on a number of occasions of late, steering Mother Earth to victory in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month.

The Italian had been due to partner an O’Brien-trained runner at Epsom, but he will now ride the Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in the Classic.

In Dettori’s expected absence Adam Kirby had been booked for the mount on the impeccably-bred Frankel colt, but Patrick Cooper, racing manager for owner Cristina Patino said: “As far as I know, he (Dettori) is riding, that’s what I’ve been told.”

Final decision yet to be made on O’Brien’s Derby team

The make-up of Aidan O’Brien’s team for the Cazoo Derby has yet to be finalised, with the Ballydoyle handler describing the Epsom showpiece as “the most important race of all”.

It is 20 years since the great Galileo provided O’Brien with his first Derby success. A couple of decades on, his tally stands at a record eight victories.

The hot favourite for Saturday’s renewal is Bolshoi Ballet, while High Definition, Van Gogh, Sir Lamorak, Kyprios and The Mediterranean are also in the mix, with the latter the only one who will almost certainly not line up as he is declared to run at Leopardstown on Thursday.

“It’s not definite yet what we’re sending. They’ve all done their last piece of work this morning and that is being analysed at the moment,” the trainer said on Tuesday afternoon.

“When the figures come back from all those works, they’ll be sent to the lads (owners) this evening. They’ll be blooded and scoped in the morning and we’ll have the results of that at lunchtime tomorrow or a little bit later. After that we’ll see what the lads want to do.

“Obviously with Bolshoi Ballet, this has been his target all the way. High Definition the same, but he didn’t have a clear passage obviously to York.

“Kyprios and Sir Lamorak both have other options, The Mediterranean is in at Leopardstown on Thursday and Van Gogh has an option of going to France (French Derby on Sunday).

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“It’s really going depend on what the lads want to do, how many they want to go with and in what order.

“Everything went well this morning and it’s so far so good with them.”

Aidan O'Brien following Bolshoi Ballet's latest victory
Aidan O’Brien following Bolshoi Ballet’s latest victory (Brian Lawless/PA)

Bolshoi Ballet has earned his place at the top of the Derby market by dominating his rivals in Ireland’s two key trials at Leopardstown – the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

O’Brien said: “We’re very happy that he’s well and everything is well with him.

“The plan was to travel him last year (ran in France) so that we didn’t travel him in the spring this year. The plan was to do the two trials at Leopardstown and both of those went well.

“He came out of Leopardstown well the last time and everything has gone smoothly with him since.”

High Definition spent the winter months as Derby favourite, but missed an intended appearance in the Lingfield Derby Trial due to unsatisfactory blood results – instead returning five days later in the Dante at York, in which he finished a creditable third.

“We were delighted to get the run into him. It looked like we weren’t going to get the run into him the week before – and if that had happened, it would have ruled him out of Epsom straight away,” O’Brien added.

“Running him gave him the option of going to Epsom. He hasn’t had as much time from York to the Derby as Bolshoi Ballet has had, but he seems in good form.

“The little thing he got in his blood, we don’t know where it came from or where it went, but it was there for four or five days. I suppose we’ll be a little bit on tenterhooks when he’s blooded in the morning, to see what way that comes back.

“We’ve been happy with him since York in everything that he has been doing.”

While O’Brien appears to hold a formidable hand, he will not be taking anything for granted.

Sir Lamorak (right) is also in Derby contention
Sir Lamorak (right) is also in Derby contention (PA)

He said: “I think it’s very competitive. There’s horses that have come from different trials over different trips and I think they all have to be respected.

“Every Derby is very competitive – I don’t remember one that wasn’t. There’s always different stories as to how horses got to the position they’re in.

“For me, there is no doubt the Derby is the most important race of all. The whole thoroughbred breed is measured by the Derby – because it’s the most gruelling race and tough on horses.

“It’s left and it’s right and they have to stay and handle everything – it just tests a horse in every way. Everyone knows Epsom is an unusual track and it’s the ultimate test for them really.”

‘Not set in stone’ but O’Brien expecting Moore to side with Bolshoi Ballet in Derby

Aidan O’Brien admits it will be “very hard to overlook Bolshoi Ballet” when the time comes for Ryan Moore to choose which of Ballydoyle’s contenders to ride in the Cazoo Derby.

O’Brien, who currently still has eight possible runners among the remaining entries for the Epsom Classic next weekend, has a familiar stranglehold on the top of the ante-post market with favourite Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition.

The latter was to the fore with bookmakers throughout most of the winter, but encountered an interrupted preparation before a delayed first appearance in his three-year-old campaign when an eyecatching third in this month’s Dante Stakes at York – with Moore riding him for the first time.

Bolshoi Ballet has looked the part so far this year
Bolshoi Ballet has looked the part so far this year (PA)

Bolshoi Ballet had by then become the new market leader following his convincing Leopardstown victories under Moore in both the Ballysax and then Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes.

O’Brien told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme: “Bolshoi has won the two most important trials here in Ireland. Then I suppose High Definition went and ran a very good race in the Dante.

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“So we’d like to see what’s going to happen now on Monday or Tuesday (at their final gallops).

“But I suppose at the moment it’s very hard to overlook Bolshoi Ballet.”

High Definition spent the winter as Derby favourite
High Definition spent the winter as Derby favourite (PA)

O’Brien plans to test the credentials of all eight possibles over the next two days, and then begin to finalise his contingent – and their riders – following discussions with principal owners Coolmore.

The eight-time Derby-winning trainer also indicated Frankie Dettori is highly likely to be among his jockeys at Epsom this year, with reports elsewhere suggesting the Italian is the obvious choice to partner whichever of the top hopes stable jockey Moore does not.

“We don’t ever put Ryan under any kind of pressure until obviously he has to make his mind up,” said O’Brien.

“But obviously everything has gone well with Bolshoi Ballet so far from each run to run.

“So obviously, if you were in Ryan’s position, you’re probably thinking that way.

“But that could change very quickly, and nothing is set in stone until he makes that decision really.”

Aidan O'Brien with Frankie Dettori after Mother Earth's 1000 Guineas victory
Aidan O’Brien with Frankie Dettori after Mother Earth’s 1000 Guineas victory (Mike Egerton/PA)

Noting the two colts’ contrasting starts to the season, O’Brien added: “At the moment everything has gone very smooth and well for Bolshoi Ballet.

“Obviously High Definition’s preparation was a little bit interrupted.

“So I suppose Ryan has to make that call.”

As for Dettori’s involvement, the Tipperary trainer – for whom the Italian won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket with Mother Earth – said: “Absolutely, we’re delighted to always have Frankie.”

Aidan O’Brien lining up strong Epsom challenge

Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition give Aidan O’Brien a formidable hand in his bid for a ninth victory in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom.

It is 20 years since the Ballydoyle handler first landed the premier Classic with Galileo, since when he has added to his tally with the likes of High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Australia (2014) and last year’s surprise winner Serpentine.

O’Brien would love to add to his total in the premier Classic on June 5, saying: “It (the Derby) is what the foundation of the thoroughbred is built on really. It is the ultimate test and they are tested in every way – speed, stamina, courage and balance.”

The hot favourite for this year’s renewal is Bolshoi Ballet, who followed up victory in last month’s Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown with a scintillating display in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial over the same course and distance.

High Definition winning the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh
High Definition winning the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh (PA)

“I am very happy with him, everything has gone well so far,” said O’Brien.

“He started off at Leopardstown in the Ballysax Stakes and we were very happy with him. He then went to the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and we were very happy with him in that as well and he seems to be in good form.”

High Definition spent the winter months at the top of ante-post lists for the Derby after winning his two starts as a juvenile.

However, this spring has not been so straightforward, with unsatisfactory blood test results ruling him out of an intended return in the Lingfield Derby Trial, although he did make his comeback five days later with a creditable third place in the Dante at York.

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O’Brien said: “I am very happy with him. Obviously, he had a very interrupted preparation – a week before the Dante he wouldn’t have been able to run. He just came right a couple of days before.

“We knew he had to run if he was going to the Derby and we couldn’t have been happier.

“It is far from ideal (the colt’s preparation), but we are very lucky it came right itself without having to medicate him. When the blood first came out the way it was, I did not think he would make it (to York) and I didn’t think the blood would come back, but it did naturally for some reason.

“Obviously, we were going to ride him patiently (in the Dante), kindly and gently, and that is what Ryan did. We were very happy with his run at York. He covered the last three furlongs quicker than anyone else in the race, so that is a very good sign for a horse like him.”

The trainer’s other potential Derby candidates include Leopardstown handicap winner Sir Lamorak and Van Gogh, although the latter is set to first contest this weekend’s Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Of Sir Lamorak, O’Brien said: “We have always thought a lot of him. He didn’t win last year, but we were very impressed with his last run.

“It was a three-year-old handicap at Leopardstown over a mile and a quarter. He relaxed very well, quickened very well and finished very well. Everything has gone well with him since.

“With a nice bit of ground and a nice pace on in front of him, everything looks good with him at the moment.”

O’Brien also has the first two in the betting for the previous afternoon’s Cazoo Oaks, with 1000 Guineas fourth Santa Barbara heading the market ahead of Musidora Stakes-winning stablemate Snowfall.

Santa Barbara remains a hugely exciting prospect
Santa Barbara remains a hugely exciting prospect (PA)

“It was a big risk going to the 1000 Guineas on only Santa Barbara’s second run, but she ran very well. This (Oaks) was always pencilled in to be her next run,” O’Brien continued.

“She came out of the 1000 Guineas well and everything has gone well with her since.

“She hasn’t been over that far (mile and a half) before, but she is a Camelot filly and we are really looking forward to seeing her run.

“We always thought the world of Snowfall last year, but we could never get her to produce what she was doing at home. Maybe a little bit of time over the winter, maybe she matured from two to three and a little bit extra distance has helped her.

“We were delighted for her to show what she has been showing us the last year at home.

“Physically she has done well since and mentally she is lovely, so it is very possible that she could really take off.”

The trainer’s potential runners in the Coronation Cup on Cazoo Oaks day include Japan, who recently made a winning return to action in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, and the brilliant filly Love, who won the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks last season.

He said: “Japan is very well. We were delighted with his run (at Chester).

“He could go to the Coronation Cup, back to a mile and a half. He ran a very good race in the Derby and he seems in good form.

“Love is very well. She is doing everything right and is ready to start.”

Bolshoi Ballet leads the way as 29 remain in Derby reckoning

All the major contenders have stood their ground as a total of 29 horses remain engaged in the Cazoo Derby following the latest scratchings deadline.

Ante-post favourite Bolshoi Ballet leads Aidan O’Brien’s eight possibles, advertising his Epsom claims with victories in the Ballysax Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial – a route followed by his sire Galileo 20 years ago.

Also featuring in the O’Brien team as he seeks a ninth success in the premier Classic is High Definition, who headed the market throughout the winter but lost that spot after a blood disorder forced him to miss his comeback in the Lingfield Derby Trial.

High Definition remains very much in the Derby picture
High Definition remains very much in the Derby picture (PA)

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He returned in the Dante Stakes at York last week, making quite eyecatching late gains to finish third to Hurricane Lane.

Hurricane Lane is one of four left in by Charlie Appleby, together with Adayar, One Ruler and Yibir.

John Leeper booked his ticket with victory at Newmarket on Saturday, with the beautifully-bred colt set to be a first Derby runner in five years for Ed Dunlop – and a special one at that, as the Frankel colt is named after his late father.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the great Mill Reef’s Derby triumph.

One of the all-time greats of the Turf, Mill Reef was trained by Ian Balding, whose son Andrew has an interesting contender in the shape of Chester Vase winner Youth Spirit.

Balding has saddled seven Derby runners to date, faring best with Khalifa Sat, who outran his 50-1 odds to finish runner-up to Serpentine in 2020. Like Khalifa Sat, Youth Spirit is owned by Ahmad Al Shaikh.

Youth Spirit (right) booked his Derby spot at Chester
Youth Spirit (right) booked his Derby spot at Chester (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Balding said: “The Derby is still the plan for Youth Spirit. He seems fine after his run at Chester, he hasn’t done a lot since but he’s come out of the race well.

“The key thing to find out that day was whether he stayed the trip and he saw it out well. He’ll go there with no stamina doubts, which there will be about some of the field and that’s got to be to his advantage, but it’s a much stronger race than the Chester Vase was so he’s got to up his game again.

“I don’t think that the track will faze him. He’s a very well-balanced horse and he handled Chester well, so he shouldn’t have a problem with Epsom Downs. He’s a different horse to Khalifa Sat, but both are very talented and if we can get the same result as last year with Youth Spirit, we’d be delighted.

“It’s great for the owner to have another contender for the race. He’s a big supporter of racing and he’s got plenty of horses in training with many yards, so it’s lovely for him to have another candidate for the Epsom Derby.

“It’s the most important race of the year for any Flat trainer I think and to have a horse good enough to run in it is an achievement in itself – anything else on the day would be a massive bonus.”

O’Brien expects High Definition improvement following Dante spin

Aidan O’Brien is anticipating plenty of improvement from High Definition following his seasonal bow at York last week.

The Cazoo Derby entry finished third in the Dante after a planned outing in the Lingfield Derby Trial was scuppered by an unsatisfactory blood test.

High Definition, who won each of his two juvenile starts, came from off the pace on the Knavesmire, and O’Brien felt the way the race unfolded was possibly not ideal for his charge.

He said: “High Definition is in good form. He hasn’t done much since York.

“I was very happy. Four days before he wasn’t going to run and he’ll come forward plenty.

“We always give them 10 days to two weeks to get back into full work and then see where they are. Ryan (Moore) was very happy with him.

“The pace died a bit in the middle and it might have suited if it had stayed strong.”

High Definition is a general 9-2 shot for the Derby at Epsom on June 5, with stablemate Bolshoi Ballet the 15-8 favourite.

O’Brien taking plenty of positives from High Definition return

Aidan O’Brien was pleased with High Definition’s performance in the Dante Stakes at York.

The one-time Cazoo Derby favourite was an intended runner in the Lingfield Derby Trial last weekend, but an unsatisfactory blood test meant he was an absentee.

High Definition instead found himself at York on Thursday, over 10 furlongs for the first time, and did all his best work in the closing stages as he finished third to the unbeaten Hurricane Lane.

“We were very happy with our horse and we were obviously delighted to get the run into him,” said O’Brien – who still houses the Epsom market leader in the shape of Bolshoi Ballet, the impressive winner of the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

“Three or four days before the Dante, we didn’t think we were going to get a run into him, so we had to be delighted.

“He seems to be in good form since he’s come home. He was doing all his best work late on, so you’d think he’d have no problem getting further.

“We never decide who is going to run in the Derby until about 10 days or two weeks after they’ve run, then we’ll decide.

“Obviously we’ll see how he is, but we were happy with the run and he’s been happy since he’s been home so far.”

Stablemate Roman Empire led the Dante field for a long time under Hollie Doyle – and at one stage looked like he might not be caught, before ultimately finishing fourth, two and a quarter lengths behind High Definition.

O’Brien added: “We were also delighted with Roman Empire – he took a huge step forward from his first run.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

High Definition heads 16 in Derby Trial contention

High Definition heads five entries from the Aidan O’Brien stable in a total of 16 for the Novibet Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield on Saturday.

The Galileo colt, unbeaten in two starts, is currently ante-post favourite for next month’s premier Classic at Epsom.

The Ballydoyle trainer’s other possibles for the Listed contest are Carlisle Bay, Hector De Maris, Kyprios and Sir Lucan. All five are entered in the Derby.

Charlie Appleby has put four in the Lingfield heat – Adayar, Hurricane Lane, Yibir and Wirko. The latter has been declared for the Chester Vase on Wednesday.

Others in the mix include Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle, the Richard Hannon-trained Etonian and Recovery Run from Andrew Balding’s yard.

Meade also has Technique in the Novibet Oaks Fillies’ Trial Stakes, but neither are definite runners yet.

Both horses are set to work on Tuesday, after which Meade will decide on their participation.

“We’ve got them both in there and we’re looking at it at the moment. They will both work tomorrow and then we’ll decide from there what to do,” he said.

“They are not definitely going. It depends how they work.”

O’Brien is responsible for four of the 15 Oaks Trial entries in Divinely, High Heels Snowfall and Willow.

Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain has been declared for Wednesday’s Cheshire Oaks at Chester, but the Middleham handler still has Roseabad.

John and Thady Gosden’s pair of Loving Dream and Regent, the Hugo Palmer-trained Ocean Road and Nash Nasha from the Appleby stable are among other interesting entries.