Ballydoyle to shoot for the stars with Astrology in Derby
Aidan O'Brien may not have found a potent threat to Camelot's Derby hopes, but at least he uncovered a worthy travelling companion for the 2,000 Guineas winner on the flight to Epsom in three weeks when Astrology ran out an authoritative winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester yesterday.
Ultimately, however, it was the weather which continued to play havoc with preparations for Epsom.
Andrew Balding took Bonfire, 10/1 second favourite for the Derby, out of yesterday's contest fearing any sort of race, let alone a tough one in a gluepot, was the last thing his colt needed. The Highclere-owned colt will now head to York's Dante Stakes on Thursday.
"The other option is a racecourse gallop, but that needs to be sooner rather than later," Balding said. "We'll have to make a decision on Monday on whether we go to York or take him to Kempton for a spin. Horses have won the Derby without a run -- like Shaamit and Lammtarra -- but they are the exception."
Without Bonfire, Astrology may not have beaten much, but he could not have done it any better, with Joseph O'Brien keeping him up to his work to come home 11 lengths clear of Oxford Charley.
"He was out in front for a long time and getting a bit idle, but he stayed all the way to the line," O'Brien said.
Astrology earned a quote of 20/1 for Epsom and the same father-son combination found the target again as Memphis Tennessee looked an improved performer in the Ormonde Stakes.
The four-year-old ran creditably to finish fourth in last year's Derby and was a similarly promising third in the Irish equivalent last June.
Making his first start since, his only conceivable danger was the talented Brown Panther, owned by Michael Owen.
As that rival was beaten a long way from home, it was a relatively easy task for even-money favourite Memphis Tennessee and he accounted for compatriot Vivacious Vivienne by four lengths.
"We're delighted with him. He was a lovely horse last year, but he's grown up a lot," said the trainer. "He's a lovely mover and I have no doubt he'll be better on better ground.
"It won't be a problem to drop back in trip with him and we might consider races like the Coronation Cup or the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. He's open to everything." (© Daily Telegraph, London)