Carntop can come out on top for Berry
Ambitious rider's England move can begin to pay dividend
The relentless Ballydoyle juggernaut moves on to Lingfield today, with Landofhopeandglory and Seventh Heaven charged with furthering their respective Classic credentials.
Landofhopeandglory was a winner and three-time runner-up in four starts as a juvenile.
He reappeared in the valuable Tattersalls race at Newmarket last month, but didn't do an awful lot to dispel the sense that he is some way down the Derby pecking order in Rosegreen.
He found little for pressure when fourth to Linguistic, so it's not easy to envisage him playing a serious role at Epsom.
Godolphin's Winning Story heads the betting for the Lingfield trial. A New Approach half-brother to the 2014 Derby seventh True Story, Winning Story has run just once, winning nicely at Newmarket in April.
The third has since won well at odds-on, giving the form a solid look.
If Winning Story improves for the experience, he could be hard to beat, but Carntop appeals as better value option at odds of up to 3/1. Trained by Ralph Beckett, this Dansili colt was soundly held in third on his track debut at Doncaster in September. However, he was a different animal next time, quickening clear for Pat Smullen over a mile at Newmarket to beat O'Brien's Schubert, with Bluebeard - a winner since - nearly eight lengths back in third.
That form looks at least as good as anything else on offer, and Carntop should have bundles of scope to progress as a three-year-old. He may not be a proper Derby contender, but then that's nothing new in relation to this Listed race.
The bottom line is that Carntop has the profile to win here and boost the fledgling Beckett-Fran Berry association.
Berry made a bold decision to get out of his comfort zone here in Ireland, so it would be good to see his ambitious endeavour begin to get some worthwhile reward.
Beckett could also provide the solution to the Oaks trial. O'Brien will saddle Seventh Heaven in the fillies' contest, and it might be unwise to underestimate her Dundalk win, as she showed quite a turn of foot late on over a mile.
Architecture, which Berry rides for the in-form Hugo Palmer, is another to note, but this could be a chance for Beckett's Mountain Bell to confirm her promise.
Denied a head by the colt Top Beak on her first start at Windsor last October, she returned to run out an emphatic winner on stepping up to 10 furlongs in soft ground at the same venue last month.
While the form reads just adequately, it was the manner that she ploughed clear that really impressed.
Granted, conditions will be quicker here, but the Qatar Racing-owned filly clearly has a touch of quality, so she is fancied to collect for Oisin Murphy.
A raider that might be worth a look is Byzantium at Nottingham. Eddie Lynam's cross-channel forays tend to be well thought through, and this four-year-old catches the eye in a Listed fillies' race over six furlongs.
Byzantium progressed through last year to be second in a similar event at Naas before underperforming at the Curragh.
Lynam wouldn't send her over for a race like this unless he had her wound up, so she is expected to go close for Billy Lee.
If you take US Army Ranger’s unconvincing Chester Vase win at face value, he should probably be double-figures in the betting for the Derby.
He isn’t, though, which reflects Aidan O’Brien’s ability to eke improvement out of a horse that is clearly immature.
It is also illustrative of the fact that it is a wide-open edition of the Classic, though the notion of Minding running in it is a figment of the bookmakers’ imaginations.
This is a little circus that they generate almost annually, based on their need to generate revenue.
In summary, it is still possible that odds of 6/1 about US Army Ranger could prove too big.
One other ante-post option to emerge from Chester is Wicklow Brave. On the back of a busy jumps season last year, Willie Mullins’ charge didn’t do himself justice in the Gold Cup.
This time, he has been trained specifically for the Flat, and he might have won yesterday had things unfolded differently. Wicklow Brave is 33/1 for the Ascot Group One this time, so he is worth an each-way venture at that.