O'Brien fears soft ground for Australia
The first seeds of doubt regarding Investec Derby favourite Australia were sewn yesterday when Aidan O'Brien admitted he would prefer the ground at Epsom to be sound enough on June 7 to suit the colt's flowing action.
The Galileo colt has been all the rage for the premier Classic since his close-up third in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 3.
However, Australia has not yet been tested in demanding conditions and his trainer is hoping that the recent wet spell quickly recedes.
O'Brien said: "We wouldn't like the ground to be soft. He's a beautiful moving horse – everybody saw the class he showed at Newmarket.
"Obviously, soft ground wouldn't be ideal, but we'll have to wait and see and hope it's not."
O'Brien confirmed at the 'Breakfast with the Stars' morning at the Surrey venue that Australia may be accompanied by Geoffrey Chaucer, Kingfisher and Orchestra.
Joseph O'Brien is set to partner Australia, while Ryan Moore, who won the Irish 1,000 Guineas last Sunday aboard the stable's Marvellous, is poised to get the leg-up on Geoffrey Chaucer.
The latter has this week been well backed in the Derby market after rumours circulated of the colt having beaten Australia in a gallop at Ballydoyle.
O'Brien senior said: "I don't know where these (rumours) come from. They have obviously always been on different work regimes and both had different races last time. I don't know where it came from. I didn't see it, if it was; maybe it happened, but I didn't see it."
Frankie Dettori, meanwhile, has admitted that he is on the lookout for a ride in the Derby. When asked if he would consider the Italian, O'Brien said: "It would be very hard to get any better than Frankie. Everyone knows how good he is, he's a special man."
Connections of Arod warned that the improving colt will not run in the Derby if the ground went soft. The Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained inmate made up lots of late ground at York on just his third career start to finish second in the Dante. Jockey Jamie Spencer issued a slight advisory, however, in that Arod needs a sound surface to be fully effective.
Romsdal will work at Newmarket this morning to determine whether or not he will be supplemented for the Derby. Beaten just a nose by Orchestra in the Chester Vase, the Princess Haya of Jordan-owned colt could instead run at Royal Ascot.
Stablemate Western Hymn, which defeated Snow Sky in April and subsequently won Sandown's Classic Trial, is very much on course for Epsom after he enjoyed a nice workout under William Buick. Kingston Hill gained plenty of admiring glances from work-watchers as last season's Racing Post Trophy winner pulled a couple of lengths clear of two lead-horses in a 10-furlong stretch. Roger Varian's colt finished eighth in the 2000 Guineas but has always been considered more suitable for the Derby.
Meanwhile, Brown Panther continued to put his case for top staying honours this season with an emphatic triumph in the Cantor Fitzgerald Henry II Stakes at Sandown.
Richard Kingscote stoked the 2/1 favourite up a quarter of a mile from home and after quickly getting the better of Girolamo in hitting the front a furlong out, his mount went nicely clear of High Jinx, which stayed on to be second-best, but was never a serious threat three and a half lengths back.
Aidan O'Brien's El Salvador, however, failed to make a mark, the 8/1 shot finishing in eighth position with Ryan Moore on board.