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O'Brien six-handed as he chases record eighth Derby


Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.


Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.

Should Aidan O'Brien win the Investec Derby for the eighth time on Saturday, it will give the Ballydoyle maestro the outright record - one he currently shares with three other trainers from the distant past - for most wins in the world's greatest Flat race.

It looks like he will have six chances, but the circumstances of the delayed start to the season, and a lack of trials which he described as "difficult for everyone", will make it one of the most interesting renewals.

"Horses could come from out of the clouds," he said yesterday.

Never a great one for putting his horses in a pecking order, he could just as likely win it with a Royal Ascot winner Russian Emperor (as a maiden), Amhran Na Bhfiann, or even the colt which was their "Derby horse" going into the winter, Mogul, though he has to improve a lot on his first start.

"We usually use the trials as trials and everyone learns about our horses and what's what at the same time as we do.

"It could happen for any of them. They all have different profiles and are at different stages of their training and careers. It's going to be interesting.

"It was the same with the Irish Derby last Saturday. All we can ask is that each horse gets a good clear run."

O'Brien first scored in the race with Galileo in 2001. It is no surprise, given Galileo's status as a super-sire and the circular nature of these things, that five out of six of his intended runners this year are by Galileo.

With Irish jockeys unsure whether a potential 14-day quarantine for visiting Britain will be lifted or not, O'Brien has turned to British jockeys William Buick, James Doyle and Adam Kirby to supplement stable jockey Ryan Moore and may send a couple of jockeys over to complete the six. Should he get the record, though, he will not be there.

"I'll be very relaxed watching it on television," he said. "We've a very good team over there and we'll hand it over the lads on the ground."

Four-lengths fourth in King Edward VII, O'Brien still has high hopes for Mogul. "We think he'll improve a lot more [for the Derby]," O'Brien said. "Ryan [Moore] felt he got tired at Ascot rather than didn't stay."

Winner of the Hampton Court Stakes, Russian Emperor also has his chance.

"Ryan was happy with him at Ascot. He's tough, hardy, relaxed and has good form. He got a mile-and-a-quarter well at Ascot and you wouldn't say he won't get a mile and a half," he added.

Runner-up in the Irish Guineas, another which could run a big race is Vatican City. "He was only just ready for the Guineas. He was ready for a conditions race [rather than a Classic]. He's by Galileo [which gives him a good chance of staying], but he's related to some very quick horses. He's relaxed and he has a big open stride."

Twelve-lengths fifth in Gallinule Stakes, Mythical can't be written off either. "He's improved a lot for the Curragh, you'll see a different horse. He's quick enough, he's a big traveller, but it's hard to work out horses like him until you go the distance.

"Amhran Na Bhfiann ran in a maiden in which the winner was second in the Irish Derby, the second third and the third fourth! A lovely big open galloper."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)