Ballydoyle Strengthens Derby Hopes With Four Trial Wins
The past week saw Ballydoyle’s hopes for the 2019 Classics continue to grow, as Aidan O’Brien trained the winners of four of the five recognised Derby trials.
First to strike, and perhaps the most impressive, was Sir Dragonet (Camelot) in the Group 3 Chester Vase Stakes. An impressive winner on debut at Tipperary last month, inexperience was against him, but the bay colt showed no signs of this when leading over a furlong from home and stretching clear to score by eight lengths under Donnacha O’Brien, as stablemate Norway (Galileo) stayed on for second.
Ballydoyle enjoyed another 1-2 in the following day’s Listed Dee Stakes, in which the favourite Circus Maximus (Galileo) led approaching the two furlong marker and was driven out by Ryan Moore to hold off stablemate Mohawk (Galileo) by a length and a quarter.
Aidan O’Brien commented after the race, “I was delighted with that. Circus Maximus is a relaxed horse and he just needed to learn a little bit, it was lovely to come here. Ryan was very impressed with him, he felt that there was an awful lot in there.”
After a profitable few days at Chester, the Ballydoyle brigade visited Lingfield on Saturday with Anthony Van Dyck (Galileo), favourite for the Listed Derby Trial Stakes. A dual Group winner and twiced placed at the highest level last season, it was the bay’s first time racing over further than a mile, but this proved no barrier to success. Leading narrowly over a furlong out, he was soon in command under Ryan Moore and ran on to beat Pablo Escobarr (Galileo) by two and a quarter lengths.
Moore later commented on the winner, saying, “He was very smooth, travelled beautifully the whole round and took me there very comfortably. He has always had a marvellous attitude and we always felt he would stay a bit further.”
Ballydoyle returned to home soil at Leopardstown on Sunday, where Broome (Australia) led home a 1-2-3 for the yard in the Group 3 Derby Trial Stakes. Sent off a short-priced favourite for his impressive victory in last month’s Ballysax Stakes, he once again produced a late challenge and led inside the final furlong under Donnacha O’Brien, running on to beat longtime leader Blenheim Palace (Galileo) by two and a half lengths, with a further half a length back to Sovereign (Galileo) in third.
Il Paradiso (Galileo) could be a horse to look forward to according to Aidan O’Brien, after winning the mile and a half maiden later on the Leopardstown card. Placed on each of his three juvenile starts over a mile, he was sent off favourite under Donnacha O’Brien and chased the leaders for much of the way, challenging in the straight to lead after the two furlong pole. Running on well, he held off a challenge by stablemate Harpo Max (Galileo) to win by half a length.