Star Of India displayed a willing attitude to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a ninth victory in the Homeserve Dee Stakes at Chester.
Gypsy King (2005), Magician (2013) and Circus Maximus (2019) are among the Ballydoyle handler’s previous winners of the Derby trial on the Roodee.
His latest challenger, who won his only juvenile start at Leopardstown in October, was the 6-4 favourite off the back of finishing fifth in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago.
Stepping up to a mile and a quarter for the first time, Star Of India slightly missed the break and had to be bustled along by Ryan Moore before taking his position on the heels of the pacesetting Mr McCann.
The latter remined in front at the top of the short straight, but the further Star Of India went the better he looked and he passed the post with two and a quarter lengths in hand.
Cresta came through to fill the runner-up spot, with Mr McCann – who counts Liverpool stars James Milner, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson among his owners – fading into fifth.
Paddy Power cut the winner to 20-1 from 33-1 for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom. O’Brien also houses ante-post favourite Luxembourg and another leading contender in Wednesday’s Chester Vase winner Changingoftheguard.
Moore said: “He’s a nice horse and it was only his third run, so that was a good performance.
“He’s still learning and things were happening a little quick for him in places, but he got it done well in the end. I think he’ll improve as he’s a very laid-back horse.
“We’re only just getting to know about him. When he came off the bridle I think that was more through greenness than anything else.
“It was a big learning curve today. He ran in a straight line at Newmarket and then he’s gone round a bend today.
“He’s in the mix with the others and he’ll get better, I’ve no doubt about that.
“He got to the line very easy there so I’d be happy with him going over further.
“I wouldn’t compare him with yesterday’s winner (Changingoftheguard) as they are slightly different horses. Yesterday’s was very impressive, but the way this race was run meant he couldn’t be impressive.”
When asked if either would compare favourably to Luxembourg, Moore gave a wry smile, shook his head, and walked into the weighing room.
O’Brien said: “It looked like he was learning all the time, it was only his third run.
“We were hopeful he’d stay and looking at that he’s stayed 10 furlongs very well indeed.
“It looked like the further he went the better, and he seemed to handle the track well enough.
“You’d have to say after that he’s done enough to be on the Epsom team, definitely.”