'Cliffs' edges home to take Dee spoils for O'Brien
Cliffs of Moher gave Aidan O'Brien his third Epsom Derby trial victory in less than a week - fourth if you include the 2,000 Guineas - when taking yesterday's Dee Stakes at Chester but, while on top at the line, the colt was no more than workmanlike in beating Bay Of Poets.
There was a mixed reaction from bookmakers about the colt's Epsom chances. He remains 7/1 generally, while BoyleSports cut him to 4/1 favourite.
Having only his third run, and first outing of the season, Ryan Moore sat on the quarters of Max Zorin throughout, but the Galileo colt - on his first start for 195 days - was under pressure from half a mile out. He had the run of the race, unlike Bay Of Poets, and the fourth home, Mirage Dancer, and it will all come down to how much he, and they, improve in the next three weeks.
sleepy "He raced a bit sleepy," said Moore. "He came out slow and the tempo was not strong. He was always having a look. I felt he was a bit rusty and the loose ground was not ideal for him."
The O'Brien-Moore axis missed out on a big-race double as Western Hymn (7/2) came home late and fast under a strong Frankie Dettori drive to deny US Army Ranger by a short-head in the Ormonde Stakes.
All looked good for the Ballydoyle camp as Moore sent US Army Ranger for home early in the short straight, but the 5/4 favourite soon had Western Hymn for company and the John Gosden-trained six-year-old got up in the shadow of the post. "You can't get there too early, I got there as late as I dared and he still stopped, but the line came in time for me," said Dettori. Royal Ascot's Hardwicke Stakes is the winner's likely target.
Gosden and Dettori completed a quick double when Gymnaste (11/8 favourite) stormed home in the TMT Group Maiden Fillies' Stakes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)