Thursday 14 December 2017

Moher the merrier as O'Brien's colt bolts to Dee win


Cliffs of Moher, ridden by Ryan Moore, wins The Homeserve Dee Stakes at Chester
Cliffs of Moher, ridden by Ryan Moore, wins The Homeserve Dee Stakes at Chester

Cliffs Of Moher is now just 4/1 for the Epsom Derby, a point shorter than stable companion and 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill, after a workmanlike win in the Dee Stakes at Chester yesterday. 

Sent off the odds on favourite for yesterday's assignment, trainer Aidan O'Brien made no secret of the fact that the colt would come on for the outing, but even still, the fact that he is this morning the favourite for racing’s blue riband must be either an over-reaction or a sign that the Derby lacks a star this year.

O'Brien was absent from Chester yesterday but Moore was pleased with Cliffs Of Moher and expects to see notable improvement.  "He just raced a bit sleepy the whole way really. He came out a little bit slow, the tempo wasn't strong and he was able to sit second, but he was always just having a look around," said the former champion jockey. 

"It was his first run of the year and he just felt a bit rusty, but I'd be very happy with him. It's loose ground and it's not ideal for him, to be fair." It's been an incredible week for the trainer who has won nine races at listed level or higher this month alone and O'Brien will saddle runners at the Curragh today, Lingfield for their Derby and Oaks Trial's and also in the French 1,000 Guineas at Deauville.  

Sir John Lavery will be the latest Derby contender from Ballydoyle to go on trial as he lines up at Lingfield this afternoon but following the early confirmations for Thursday's Dante Stakes the unbeaten colt Cracksman, trained by John Gosden, will put his Derby credentials on the line and that could leave us with another new ante post favourite for the Epsom showpiece on the first Saturday of June.

There was something of a surprise yesterday morning at declaration time when the field for the French 2,000 Guineas on Sunday were revealed.  O'Brien will saddle two runners in that contest but Ryan Moore is not onboard Orderofthegarter and instead Moore will ride Peace Envoy.


Orderofthegarter won the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial in good style while Peace Envoy could only finish fourth on his reappearance this season and is without a win since last July so it will be fascinating to see how that race develops. 

The Royal Ascot winner Acapulco will make her first start for O'Brien since joining Ballydoyle from the American trainer Wesley Ward and she will be an interesting runner at the Curragh tomorrow. 

Donnacha O'Brien comes in for the enviable spare ride on the filly who is in foal to Galileo but will face a tough task on her Irish debut as Ger Lyons' Ardhoomey will prove a difficult opponet in the Sole Power Stakes and there are seven speed merchants from across the water making up the 12 runner field.

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