Australia expectations rise as True Story flops in Dante
AUSTRALIA shortened to 8/11 favourite for the Investec Derby as Godolphin's True Story, his chief rival in the ante-post market, finished a disappointing third in the Dante Stakes at York.
The Ballydoyle colt is now likely to go to Epsom with a level of expectation to rival that which surrounded Camelot two years ago.
Victory went to The Grey Gatsby, the most exposed of the six runners and considered suspect at the Derby distance of a mile and a half. The Kevin Ryan-trained colt is to be aimed at the two-furlong shorter Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly on June 1.
True Story, the seven-length winner of the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket last month, was seen as the one colt on the horizon with the potential to challenge Australia, the 2,000 Guineas third, at the head of the Derby betting.
In a strongly run race he had his chance, but could not overhaul the winner, which had three-quarters of a length to spare on the line.
The Grey Gatsby, which finished six places behind Australia in the 2,000 Guineas, took an erratic course in the final furlong, veering sharply right in front of True Story, proving a distraction to those behind and inconveniencing the Godolphin runner without actually costing him his chance.
Ryan Moore, his jockey, received a two-day ban for the incident. Kieren Fallon, True Story's rider, blamed the going for the defeat. "He is a top-of-the-ground horse," Fallon said.
"It was only a trial. The ground is very important for him. We had to run somewhere. It was not ideal that one horse (Odeon) went off in front, with the chance that he would stay on."
Despite the litany of excuses, True Story failed to run up to the promise of his two previous outings when it was crucial that he did so.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor confirmed that Godolphin would press ahead with plans to run the colt in the Derby on June 7, but he's drifted in the betting to between 14/1 and 16/1, having been as short as 5/1 only 24 hours earlier.
The one positive pointer from the Dante was that runner-up Arod, a son of Teofilo, will go to Epsom and, provided that he gets his ground, he should hold a decent each-way chance.
Trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, who won the Derby with Dr Devious and Authorized, said Arod was improving rapidly and "still had time to measure up".
Meanwhile, on the last day of the Knavesmire festival this afternoon, Moore will bid to emulate yesterday's big-race success when he partners the Michael Stoute-trained Gospel Choir in the Group Two Sky Bet Yorkshire Cup.
The Galileo gelding won at the same level at Newmarket recently, but this will be tougher, with Marco Botti's in-form Tac De Boistron – successful in the Group One Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp in October – heading the market at 3/1.
In the Irish Champions Weekend Listed Fillies' Stakes, Botti gives the talented Marc Monaghan a chance on Pelerin.
Monaghan, who steered Pelerin to its second win in three career outings at Thirsk last time, is a product of Mick Halford's renowned production line who is in his first season with the up-and-coming Newmarket handler.
The only Irish-based runner at York is Denis Hogan's Shalaman in the Sportingbet.com Handicap. Third on its Cork reappearance last month, the five-year-old will be ridden by another rising star of the weigh-room, the irrepressible Killarney native Oisin Murphy.
At Newbury, David Wachman and Wayne Lordan combine in the 10-furlong Listed fillies' race with Lahinch Classics, a smart Galileo three-year-old which won at the second time of asking at Dundalk in April.