Hans Holbein enters the Derby picture after victory in Chesty Vase
After a somewhat frustrating time in terms of Epsom Derby trials for the Ballydoyle team, trainer Aidan O’Brien secured a record equalling sixth success in the Chester Vase yesterday when Hans Holbein justified favouritism under Ryan Moore.
It was a third win in the race in as many years for O’Brien who won it with Ruler Of The World.
That horse was pretty unheralded at the time, but then went on to win the Epsom Classic and it was actually his brother Giovanni Canaletto who was supposed to line up here until returning an unsatisfactory scope and being replaced in the field by Hans Holbein.
Favourite backers had few fears yesterday as Ryan Moore got himself to the front of the field at an early stage and dictated from there to run out a rather snug length and three parts winner of the Group Three.
Winning rider Moore commented afterwards: “I spoke to Joseph (O’Brien) who said he was very fit and well, and he was as I could barely pull him up.
“He’s quite laid-back but he finds a little bit when you ask him.”
In what still looks a fairly wide open Derby market, Moore added: “The form doesn’t amount to a great deal at the moment, but he can only improve and he’ll be better over further as well.
“He went round here well enough, so I don’t see why he wouldn’t act at Epsom.”
Coolmore’s representative, Kevin Buckley, confirmed that the Epsom Derby is very much next on the agenda for Hans Holbein and this could be a big weekend for determining which stable companions join him there.
“Ryan was very pleased with the horse and his attitude and he saw out the extra two furlongs from his last start at Leopardstown really well, which we thought he would,” he said.
“I spoke to Aidan and that win firmly puts him in the Derby picture now.”
Of the other Ballydoyle colts, Buckley added: “Joseph did the right thing on Ol’ Man River and just sat up on him when he didn’t feel right. The Dante is a possibility given that he didn’t have much of a race on Saturday in the Guineas but that has to be confirmed.
“I’m not sure if we’ll get a run into Giovanni Canaletto before the Derby but things are getting a little tight now.
“Highland Reel is an exciting horse to look forward to and he goes for the French 2,000 Guineas and, hopefully, John F Kennedy lives up to expectations in the Derrinstown on Sunday. I think we’ll have to put a line through his last run.
“Kilimanjaro is by High Chaparral and has some decent form as well and we’re looking forward to seeing him on Saturday in the Lingfield Derby Trial along with Wedding Vow in the Oaks Trial also.”