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).
“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.”
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.
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.”
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