Orchestra can call tune and take Vase
Aidan O'Brien, who has done more than anyone else in recent times to salvage the Chester Vase's status as a legitimate Derby trial, relies on Carlo Bugatti and Orchestra in this afternoon's edition of the 12-furlong Group Three.
When the Ballydoyle whiz saddled Ruler Of World to take the Epsom Classic last year after warming up with a runaway victory in the Vase, it was the first time any horse landed both races since Shergar famously did so in 1981.
Quest For Fame was beaten in the Vase prior to enjoying Derby glory in 1990, as wins for O'Brien's subsequent Irish Derby heroes Soldier Of Fortune (2007) and Treasure Beach – narrowly denied by Pour Moi at Epsom in 2011 – finally began the process of rejuvenating its Classic credentials.
Just five of today's nine-strong field are entered in next month's premier Classic, but the suspicion is that the two raiders are the ones best equipped to further enhance its reputation. Joseph O'Brien has opted for the first-time blinkered Carlo Bugatti.
However, the Montjeu colt's pedigree doesn't suggest middle distances will be his area of expertise, and the way that he folded behind Fascinating Rock in the Ballysax Stakes at Navan did nothing to refute that. The Ryan Moore-ridden Orchestra is a more appealing option at 4/1 from a favourable draw in stall two on the notoriously tight Roodee circuit.
Second to Free Eagle on its Leopardstown debut last August before running out a smooth winner at Tipperary, the son of Galileo is out of a sister to Moonstone and L'Acresse, which respectively won and finished second in an Irish Oaks for the Rosegreen stable.
That would suggest this sort of test will suit Orchestra ideally, although he has to overcome a lack of a recent outing here. Nonetheless, Australia's performance at Newmarket on Saturday confirmed that O'Brien will have his three-year-old colts as ready as he wants on any given day, so Moore's mount is fancied to be tuned up sufficiently for this assignment.
There are two other Irish-trained runners on the card. Both have chances, with the champion jockey due to partner Daniel O'Sullivan's Long Journey Home for a first time in the concluding 10-furlong handicap. This isn't a great race, so the six-year-old could have a say, having just been thwarted by the O'Brien-ridden Egyptian Warrior at Dundalk first time up.
In a better quality race over the same trip at the top of the card, Pat Shanahan will saddle That's Plenty, whose owner Thistle Bloodstock – the racing vehicle of Dubai-based Scot Jimmy Long – is after splitting with its retained rider Tadhg O'Shea.
Ronan Whelan steps in aboard That's Plenty, which followed its Irish Lincoln second with a smooth Musselburgh win. If you accept that Whelan is value for his three-pound claim, the in-form five-year-old is just three pounds higher now, so he ought to have a say from an inside draw in stall two.