Orchestra hits right notes to set up hat-trick for Moore
Rarely has a case of déjà vu taken on as much relevance leading up to the Epsom Derby as it did at Chester yesterday.
Twelve months after winning the Chester Vase on a smart Ballydoyle colt, Ryan Moore was landing it again, this time aboard a big, imposing three-year-old from the same Aidan O'Brien stable, Orchestra.
The key factor is that last year's winner, Ruler Of The World, who bolted in by six lengths, went on to triumph at Epsom, and that offered the jockey the perfect opportunity for comparison, although Orchestra only scraped home by a nose from the strong-finishing Romsdal.
"They are different shapes," Moore explained. "Both came here unexposed. Ruler Of The World was the more impressive, but Orchestra's race was more competitive. Also, Ruler Of The World had improved a lot when he got to Epsom."
Some bookmakers shortened Orchestra to 20/1 (from 33/1) for the Derby, but O'Brien – who trains 6/4 ante-post favourite Australia – still has plenty more colts to run.
Mekong River and Blue Hussard line up in tomorrow's Lingfield Derby Trial; Geoffrey Chaucer puts his Classic credentials on the line at Leopardstown on Sunday, while the trainer has yet to finalise plans for York's Dante Stakes next week.
The striking feature about Orchestra, which is by Galileo out of a Danehill mare, is his size, which normally would be a worry around the tight turns on the Roodee. But he handled them comfortably and appeared to have plenty up his sleeve on the home bend.
"He travelled beautifully through the race. He is big but is a well-balanced horse," Moore said.
Runner-up Romsdal was making rapid headway in the last 50 yards and failed by just a nose. Scotland was eight lengths back in third, suggesting the form is solid.
Romsdal is not in the Derby but appears just the type to progress to Classic standard by the second half of the season. He holds an entry in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot.
Moore was in tremendous form, reeling off a hat-trick. Following Orchestra, he fired in Legend Rising and then Ballymore Castle, having picked up the ride from Paul Hanagan, who was injured in a fall on the way to the start in the previous race.
At Clonmel, the in-form Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen continued on their winning ways as Vintage Nouveau galloped to a comprehensive victory in the opening fillies maiden.
Despite drifting from an opening show of 4/6 to evens, the daughter of Montjeu never gave her supporters a moment's worry as Smullen quickly took up the running before racing clear in the straight for a five-length win from Westpieser.
Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning were also on the mark with a drifting favourite as Chance To Dance landed the Fethard Maiden. Having run second at the Curragh on Monday, the 5/4 market leader showed no ill-effects from those exertions and galloped on strongly to beat Ebadani by three lengths.
There was a surprise in the 10-furlong auction maiden as Patrick Prendergast's Tonton Macoute sprang a 25/1 shock under Declan McDonogh, while John Oxx and Niall McCullagh teamed up to take the evening's feature as Newellen (9/4 favourite) captured the Tipperary Perpetual Cup. (© Daily Telegraph, London)