herald

Sunday 18 August 2019

Aidan has hope instead of belief

Anthony Van Dyck will be following in the hoofprints of his illustrious father if he can supplement his Investec Derby triumph with victory in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

It is 18 years since the top-class racehorse turned super-sire Galileo provided Aidan O'Brien with his first victories at Epsom and in Ascot's midsummer highlight. Surprisingly, none of the trainer's next five Derby winners even ran in the King George.

Anthony Van Dyck emerged victorious after a thrilling five-way finish to last month's premier Classic, but was unable to complete the Derby double at the Curragh four weeks later when his stablemate Sovereign claimed a shock victory from the front.

With the brilliant dual Arc heroine Enable and proven top-notcher Crystal Ocean among his rivals today, O'Brien is more hopeful than confident that his charge can prevail.

He said: "He is getting weight, but the weight for age is there for a reason, because he is only three-year-old and most of his rivals are four and five-year-olds.

"I suppose this was always one of the races the lads (owners Coolmore) had pencilled in for him - it was part of the original plan, and we didn't see any reason why to change it after the Curragh.

"We think he has always been versatile as regards to ground."

The Ballydoyle maestro also saddles Magic Wand and rank outsiders Hunting Horn and Norway.

Crystal Ocean was narrowly beaten by stablemate Poet's Word in last year's renewal and returns at the top of his game after completing a hat-trick for the season in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot under Frankie Dettori.

With the popular Italian on board Enable this weekend, and Crystal Ocean's regular partner Ryan Moore committed to riding Anthony Van Dyck, James Doyle has been called up to partner Michael Stoute's five-year-old for the first time.

Doyle said: "We know what we're up against - the Queen of the turf in Enable."

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