Johnny Murtagh has warned punters it is far too early to write off St Nicholas Abbey after he was beaten into sixth place in the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday.
An awesome display in last year's Racing Post Trophy meant Aidan O'Brien's colt was sent off the even-money favourite for the first Classic of the season, but he was ultimately well held by French winner Makfi.
Ladbrokes pushed the three-year-old out to 4/1 from 7/4 for next month's Investec Derby, but his big-race jockey is confident he will show his true colours if he does line up at Epsom.
"The magic wasn't there and the race probably didn't go as I would have liked," said Murtagh.
"There wasn't much pace and he got a bit disorganised coming down the dip.
"He stayed on OK but it took me from two and a half furlongs out to the half furlong marker to get him organised and on an even keel.
"I was quite happy with the way he stayed on up the hill, and our horses come on a lot from one run to the next.
"I'd expect a big improvement next time out and I'd say the Derby would be very much still in the picture.
"I still believe he's a very good horse and we didn't see anything like the true St Nicholas Abbey the other day," he said.
"Maybe he just had an off-day, and you can forgive them one bad run."