O'Brien: Australia 'the best horse we've had for Derby'
Aidan O'Brien is preparing to send a squad of four colts to the Epsom Derby on June 7, headed by Australia, which could be one of Ballydoyle's most striking winners if he lives up to his home reputation.
O'Brien revealed yesterday that a bout of coughing hit the yard just before the start of the Irish Flat season, holding up many of his potential stars, and that Australia had been the first struck down.
"It's been a struggle," he said at the training centre on the outskirts of Rosegreen, Tipperary. "Many of them have been unwell. I have had to train them gently and carefully."
In the circumstances, it makes the performance of Australia in finishing third in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas a good deal better than it might have appeared. The setback cannot have helped the colt, which the trainer described as relaxed.
O'Brien was conscious that he would be accused of over-hyping Australia, yet the more he spoke of the colt, the more genuine his assessment sounded.
"He's a Derby horse we've not had the like of before. I thought Camelot was the best horse we had for the Derby, but this horse is another step up. I've never had a horse like this. I'm not trying to blow him up, I'm just saying how it is."
Australia, 11/8 favourite for the Derby with Corals, is due to be joined by Geoffrey Chaucer (14/1), which should come on for his third in Sunday's Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, Orchestra (20/1), the Chester Vase winner, and Kingfisher (33/1), which landed a weak Dee Stakes last week.
O'Brien said it was unlikely that he would have runners at this week's May Meeting at York because of the recent rain and anticipated soft ground. (© Daily Telegraph, London)