Bolshoi Ballet to fly the flag for Aidan O’Brien in Epsom Derby

Ryan Moore will take the solitary Ballydoyle ride on Saturday who starts as favourite

Bolshoi Ballet will fly the flag for Aidan o’Brien at Epsom. Photograph: Peter Mooney

Bolshoi Ballet will fly the flag for Aidan o’Brien at Epsom. Photograph: Peter Mooney

 

Some ante-post punters might be fuming with Aidan O’Brien for relying solely on Bolshoi Ballet in Saturday’s Cazoo Epsom Derby but surely one man who isn’t is Ryan Moore.

Having missed out on O’Brien’s last three Derby winners through picking the ‘wrong’ stable companion Moore has been spared a similar Derby quandary this time.

Bolshoi Ballet is set to start a warm favourite on Saturday against 11 opponents that include Jim Bolger’s Irish Guineas hero Mac Swiney and Joseph O’Brien’s outsider, Southern Lights.

As expected Bolshoi Ballet’s stable companion, High Definition, was taken out at Thursday’s declaration stage, a move flagged by O’Brien the day before but which wrong-footed those anticipating another multiple Ballydoyle challenge on racing’s ‘Blue Riband.’

Moore has the most coveted job in racing as Ballydoyle’s No 1 jockey but the regular agony of choice that comes with it is stamped all over Friday’s Oaks.

From O’Brien’s handful of runners, the Englishman has opted for the favourite Santa Barbara although his record of picking incorrectly will have plenty others fancying their chances.

Since winning last year’s Oaks on the clear Ballydoyle pick, Love, Moore’s judgement has more often than not proved faulty at the top level.

He hasn’t been available for four of O’Brien’s last dozen Group 1 winners while Love (Yorkshire Oaks) and Mogul (Hong Kong Vase) were the only Ballydoyle runners in their respective races.

However Moore picked wrong on six other occasions, including last year’s Derby, and at the Breeders Cup, as well as in both of this year’s 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Curragh.

Having opted to side with Santa Barbara’s huge home reputation at Newmarket he had to watch his great rival Frankie Dettori make the most of his ‘spare’ on Mother Earth.

The Italian is on the impressive Musidora winner Snowfall this time while Seamus Heffernan is on the long-odds gamble Divinely.

Moore also had the pick of the two brothers, Japan and Mogul, in Friday’s other Group 1, the Coral Coronation Cup, on what is a bumper classic 72 hour period.

Travel restrictions mean he doesn’t have the pick of O’Brien’s two runners in Sunday’s Prix Du Jockey Club as the trainer tries to secure a first French Derby 24 years after his first attempt.

Instead Spanish rider Ioritz Mendizabal maintains his association with the favourite St Mark’s Basilica on who he won last month’s French 2,000 Guineas.

Colin Keane will resume his association with Ballydoyle by travelling to Chantilly for the ride on Van Gogh.

Paddy Power make it only 9-1 about O’Brien securing a rare classic hat-trick over the coming three days.

The reverberations from his decision to only run Bolshoi Ballet in the Derby saw Dettori elbow Adam Kirby off one of the main home fancies, John Leeper, although the jockey has himself replaced Oisin Murphy on the Godolphin outsider Adayar.

Before that though Kirby looks to be on the filly with perhaps the best single piece of form in the Oaks.

Saffron Beach was runner up to Mother Earth at Newmarket with Santa Barbara just behind her, yet is almost four times the price in some betting lists.

The presumption must be that Santa Barbara, as well as trial winners such as Dubai Fountain and Snowfall, will improve for the experience and a step up in trip.

However Saffron Beach’s trainer, Jane Chapple-Hyam, deliberately skipped the Irish 1,000 to wait for this and there could be value in siding with the filly to step up too and give connections a first classic.

Al Aasy is the hot Coronation Cup favourite but after being wiped out early in last year’s Derby, there could be value too in Pyledriver’s return to Epsom.

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