Fascinating to see if Weld can conquer Australia
Being by Derby winner Galileo out of the Oaks victor Ouija Board, everything about Australia endorses him a Derby horse. His form, his pedigree and his eminence suggest that he has been hand sculpted by the equine gods for the second colt’s classic of the year, a race won by his trainer a masterful four times, including the last two renewals.
Having finished a neck second on debut at the Curragh, Australia obliged on his second start winning over seven furlongs at the County Kildare track. The Aidan O’Brien trained colt ended the season in emphatic fashion running out a six-length winner of a Group 3 at Leopardstown, beating the previous ante-post Derby favourite Free Eagle with ease.
He began this season with an eye-catching effort in the 2000 Guineas finishing third, beaten just under a length. That form is by far the best on offer here, with Kingman since confirming the Guineas placings with fourth placed Shifting Power in the Irish equivalent, while tenth-placed The Grey Gatsby has gone on to win both the Dante Stakes and the French Derby.
Not all is set to run smoothly however, the forecast heavy rain being the obstacle on this occasion. To the naked eye Australia has a fast ground action, further backed up by trainer O’Brien who has made it clear that his confidence would be reduced if the rain arrives. However he is bred to excel over middle distances and given connections and form he is the one they all have to beat.
The Racing Post Trophy has proved to be the best of the two-year-old form on offer in the past in regards to this race and has produced three winners from five that have attempted both in the last 10 years. Kingston Hill was an impressive winner of last year’s renewal, running out a facile four-and-a- half-length winner. The form of that race has not lived up to much, although The Grey Gatsby did finish seventh on that occasion.
Trained by Roger Varian the son of Mastercraftsman has gained all his three wins with soft somewhere in the going description and most recently finished a disappointing eighth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on quicker ground. Any rain will help his chances and it’s easy to see why many rate him as the biggest danger to the well supported favourite.
Arod looked the one to take from the Dante Stakes, a race that has looked more credible recently with the Group 1 victory of The Grey Gatsby in France. The son of Teofilo backed up his easy maiden win with a fast finishing second at York, looking like the step up in trip would suit. An official rating of 108 leaves him with a bit to find on the average rating of previous Derby winners but Australia aside, this year’s renewal looks an open affair.
The Derrinstown Stud Trial is always a fascinating Derby trial, and this year was no exception as you could easily make a case for the three that repose from the race. Geoffrey Chaucer looked the unlucky horse in the Derrinstown, after meeting interference on a number of occasions. His maiden and Group 2 victories last year make him of serious interest and the step up to a mile and half should also see him in a positive light. He was conceding three pounds to the front two at Leopardstown and although it’s hard to say whether he would have won with a clear run, he would have defiantly been on the heels of the leaders.
Ebanoran crossed the line first in the Derrinstown but controversially lost the race in the steward’s room. He showed an excellent turn of foot and a great attitude to battle all the way to the line in what was just his third career start. Personally he looked to be going as far as he wanted and looked the least likely to be a Derby winner of the three. On saying that John Oxx has saddled just one horse in the Derby in the last 10 years, the great Sea The Stars to victory in 2009.
Fascinating Rock was awarded the Derrinstown Stud Trail and looked the most likely to produce his best over further. A winner first time out this season, form which has lived up to little since, the son of Fastnet Rock followed up in the Ballysax Stakes at Navan – Galileo the last horse to win the Ballysax and the Derrinstown on route to winning the Derby.
Tarfasha proved the well being of the Weld string by finishing second in the Oaks on Friday and although it would be a tall ask for Fascinating Rock to lower the colours of Australia, at 12/1 he looks the last bit of remaining each way value at nearly double the price of the reposing Geoffrey Chaucer.
Fascinating Rock 12-1 E/W
By Joseph Smyth / Photo: Artur Widak/PA Wire
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