Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Joseph O’Brien excited by Australia’s chance in Investec Derby as odds lengthen

Australia 'wouldn't like the ground to be soft' at Epsom for the Investec Derby, says trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Australia 'wouldn't like the ground to be soft' at Epsom for the Investec Derby, says trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

AUSTRALIA was on the drift for the Investec Derby with one major bookmaker on a busy morning of Epsom news but the favourite's jockey Joseph O'Brien remains excited about his prospects.

O'Brien and his father Aidan became the first father-son combination to win the Classic in 2012 with Camelot, and Guineas third Australia heads a four-strong team from Ballydoyle on Saturday afternoon.

Paddy Power had eased Australia to a best-priced 5-4 but O'Brien jnr said: "I'm really looking forward to it. Ever since he came into the yard and started working he's always been a good horse.

"He's bred to stay the trip, bred to handle the track and bred to win the Derby which is what you need going to Epsom. It's the ultimate test of a racehorse.

"You need to have a horse with pace, balance and that will get the trip. It's a funny track to ride at times, with Tattenham Corner and all the different things running down into the straight, it's the ultimate test of horse and rider. It's the race every jockey wants to win.

"He's got plenty of pace, hopefully he'll get the trip but it's an unknown, his mum and dad handled the track well. We're looking forward to it."

The bookmaker reported a couple of weeks ago that "a racing insider told our representative at Sandown that Geoffrey Chaucer absolutely smashed Australia in a Ballydoyle gallop" and the firm are not repenting.

Paddy Power said: "Pundits have yawned and called us 'the grandmasters of PR flim-flam' about our statement on the possible merits of Australia and Geoffrey Chaucer.

"But we're happy to put our money where our mouth is and take on the 'jolly', especially when Aidan is employing the scattergun approach of four runners."

Oisin Murphy will have his first Derby ride as Ed Dunlop has booked the apprentice of the moment for Red Galileo.

He will warm up for that mount aboard the William Knight-trained course specialist Beacon Lady in the Investec Coronation Cup.

Red Galileo had some promising two-year-old form but has been fairly well beaten in the Sandown Classic Trial and Lingfield Derby Trial.

"We had a list of possible jockeys and after watching him win the Temple Stakes, the decision was made to book Oisin," said Dunlop.

"My horses were ill earlier in the year, but this horse was supplemented and Mr Arculli (owner) is very keen to run."

Beacon Lady was supplemented into the field and shows by far her best form at Brighton and Epsom, where she bolted up in the Great Metropolitan Handicap at the April meeting.

Knight said: "Oisin has won on her before and knows her well, which is important. She has pretty much been ridden by apprentices all her career."

Kevin Manning has been confirmed for the ride aboard Godolphin runner Sudden Wonder.

The Charlie Appleby-trained colt finished third in the Lingfield Derby Trial and is one of three possible runners for Godolphin along with Appleby's Pinzolo and Saeed bin Suroor's True Story.

Appleby told "I am very happy with Sudden Wonder's preparation to date and confident he will put up a big performance in the Investec Derby.

"I have spoken to connections and we agreed that we would like Kevin Manning to be on board as his style of riding will suit Sudden Wonder.

"He is a very positive rider and experienced around Epsom. He partnered New Approach, Sudden Wonder's sire, to victory in the Derby."

Appleby has yet to make a decision about his other entry and said: "Pinzolo is suited by a sound surface so we will keep an eye on the weather, while Sudden Wonder has won on that type of going and soft ground."

William Buick confirmed he has chosen Sandown Classic Trial winner Western Hymn over the fellow John Gosden-trained runner Romsdal.

Buick told his At The Races blog: "This was a very hard decision to make because Romsdal is emerging as a very serious horse which is why he was supplemented on Monday.

"His run in the Chester Vase was excellent and he would have won that in another stride instead of going down by a nose - and he is on the upgrade.

"But I just couldn't desert Western Hymn. He excited me when he won his first race of the season at Newbury and he showed a lot of courage on bad ground at Sandown to win the Classic Trial.

"A lot has been made of his habit of looking about him, but it's just a characteristic and it's never stopped him going forward.

"He went to Epsom last Thursday and showed he can handle the undulations and after I gave him a nice spin over seven and a half furlongs on the Al Bahathri this morning, it made my mind up. I hope I've called it right."

Frankie Dettori could still be available for a spare as it is looking likely he will be action on the undercard for his retained owner Al Shaqab Racing.

"I've been told they are thinking of running Baitha Alga in the Woodcote on Saturday so he could be at Epsom," said Dettori's agent Ray Cochrane.

"That's possible at the moment, but things can change in racing."

Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said this evening: "We're going to leave it as good at close of play.

"There was some light rain in the area this morning, just enough to wet the grass, and the going stick is at 7.8, which is an indication of good ground.

"We are forecast showers, maybe starting at 2am or 3am and going on for most of the day. It sounds like they are going to be light, possibly five millimetres, so it's not a deluge. If that's what we get, the ground's not likely to get worse than good.

"Thursday is dry and then it gets warm and more humid, which does leave the chance of rain by Saturday. So we'll see what we get tomorrow and play it by ear."

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