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O'Brien colt gains little in disappointing Derby trial

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Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien

ON the day Epsom announced a major sponsorship boost for the Derby, the track's trial race for this year's showpiece event turned out to be a damp squib.

During the morning it was revealed that Investec will continue to back the Derby fixture until 2021 after agreeing a 10-year extension worth £30m to their deal with Epsom.

The extension will see the Investec Derby reinstated as the richest race in the UK offering a prize fund of £1,325,000 in 2012, with significant boosts for the Oaks and Coronation Cup prizes already announced.

However, the track's initiative of rewarding the winner of their Derby Trial with an automatic entry backfired somewhat as Andrew Balding's Goldoni is not permitted to run in the race as he is a gelding. The young horse ploughed through the mud better than his rivals to record a hard-fought win over Mister Music and could run next in the Lingfield Derby Trial on May 12.

"It saves Investec some money," quipped Balding. "I do think it's a good initiative and hopefully we'll still have a horse good enough to run in the Derby. He was a pretty useful horse but he has improved a lot for being gelded and should have a good season."

Aidan O'Brien's decision to run Thomasgainsborough gained experience for the three year-old, but prize money for fourth hardly earned enough to pay for the home leg of the journey to Ballydoyle.

O'Brien's So You Think and Cirrus Des Aigles, which fought out the finish to the Champion Stakes in October, are among 10 horses remaining in the Prix Ganay--Prix Air Mauritius at Longchamp on Sunday.

The French ace, trained by Corine Barande-Barbe, came out on top by three-quarters of a length from O'Brien's charge at Ascot and is fresh from success in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

As well as the former Australian-trained star, O'Brien has left in Windsor Palace and Robin Hood at the latest acceptance stage for the Group One race over 10 furlongs.

The Mikel Dezangles-trained Dunaden, winner of the Melbourne Cup, has also stood his ground. Alain de Royer-Dupre has both last year's Prix du Jockey Club winner Reliable Man and Prix d'Harcourt scorer Giofra while Michael Bell's globe-trotter Wigmore Hall also features.

With rains lashing both sides of the Irish Sea, waterlogging forced Hereford to abandon yesterday, and it also claimed today's Uttoxeter card, while Leicester called an inspection for this morning to see if Saturday's fixture can take place.

Meanwhile, Frankel has completed his first piece of work at Newmarket since an injury scare threatened his future. "It was nothing very much, it was just a gentle piece, but he strode out well and everyone was very pleased," said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdulla.

Frankel is unlikey to ever run against Black Caviar but the Australian mare is the undoubted star attraction among entries from 11 countries for the Group One races at Royal Ascot this summer.

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes on June 23 is the most likely target for Peter Moody's unbeaten mare.

Irish Independent