The guessing game over how many runners Aidan O’Brien will field in the Derby continued on Thursday as his colt Star Of India powered home in the Dee Stakes and, barring mishaps, surely booked his place in the Classic. The son of Galileo, already the sire of four of O’Brien’s record eight Derby winners, is now top-priced at 16-1 to win at Epsom next month, joining his stable companions Luxembourg, Point Lonsdale and Changingoftheguard near the top of the ante-post market.
O’Brien’s willingness to run any trial winner with the right pedigree in the Epsom Classics makes sense, as at this time of year, his stable is always full of three-year-olds with impeccable 12-furlong pedigrees that have yet to be fully tested at the Derby trip.
Star Of India’s win here at 10 furlongs certainly suggested plenty more improvement to come when he steps up to a mile-and-a-half. Ryan Moore’s mount had a couple of lengths to find on the leaders on the home turn and took several strides to find top gear but once he was up to speed, Star Of India surged to the front and was still finding more as he hit the line with just over two lengths to spare.
Moore has now ridden three of O’Brien’s Derby candidates – Luxembourg and Changingoftheguard are the others – in the space of six days, but he was reluctant to offer any comparisons with several more Classic trials still to be run over the next few days.
“He’s a nice horse and it was only his third run, so that was a good performance,” Moore said. “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.
“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. I wouldn’t compare him with yesterday’s winner [Changingoftheguard] as they’re slightly different horses. Yesterday’s was very impressive, but the way this race was run meant that he couldn’t be impressive. “
When asked if either of his Chester trial winners would compare favorably with Luxembourg, third home in the 2,000 Guineas, Moore remained tight-lipped and retreated into the weighing room.
Luxembourg remains a 3-1 favorite for the Derby before Lingfield’s Derby Trial on Saturday, when Charlie Appleby’s Walk Of Stars, an 11-1 shot for Epsom, will head a five-runner field.
Rajinsky an over-priced option for Chester Cup
Frankie Dettori and Falcon Eight overcame a slow start from a wide draw to win last year’s Chester Cup with something to spare, and they are likely to head the betting to follow up from a 5lb higher mark on the Roodee on Friday.
His rise in the ratings – to a mark of 109 – is modest on the face of it, but 16 horses rated 109 or higher have tried to defy top weight of 9st 12lb in Britain in the last 15 years and just one has succeeded. At his likely price, which will also feel the impact of his rider’s popularity with the punters, Dermot Weld’s gelding looks like a favorite to oppose.
The Grand Visir, a two-length runner-up 12 months ago and 7lb better off with the winner, is likely to have been aimed at this from a long way out and makes some each-way appeal at a big price.
Rajinsky (3.15), though, is in better form coming into Friday’s race, has an obvious chance on his win at Ascot in October and, as a clincher, the excellent apprentice Harry Davies taking 7lb off his back. He also has an excellent pitch in stall one and looks over-priced at around 12-1 in the early betting.
Chester 1.30: Directory is hardly maximum-bet material as he can be slow to stride at times and is also 5lb out of the handicap here. There was nothing wrong with his six-length win at Ascot last month, though, that performance was backed up by the time and he remains on a fair mark on that form.
Market Rasen 1.50: Railway Muice was a ready winner of an amateurs’ event over course and distance last month and has decent prospects of a follow-up from a 7lb higher mark.
Chester 2.05: This could be the season when Brentford Hope finally fulfils the promise of his winning debut as a juvenile in 2019. His placed form in Pattern events last season suggests he could be up to defying top weight here.
Chester 2.40: Majestic Dawn is the only regular front-runner and 5-1 in a four-strong field will look big if he gets an easy time of it in front.
Chester 2.45: The Queen’s useful sprinter King’s Lynn goes well fresh and would be giving more weight to most of these rivals in a handicap.