The guessing game over how many runners Aidan O'Brien will field in the Epsom Derby continued on Thursday as his colt Star Of India powered home in the Dee Stakes and, barring mishaps, surely booked his place in the Classic.
The son of Galileo, already the sire of four of O'Brien's record eight Derby winners, is now top-priced at 16-1 to win at Epsom next month, joining his stable companions Luxembourg, Point Lonsdale and Changingoftheguard near the top of the antepost market.
O’Brien’s willingness to run any trial winner with the right pedigree in the Epsom Classics makes sense, as at this time of year, his stable is always full of three-year-olds with impeccable 12-furlong pedigrees that have yet to be tested fully at the Derby trip.
Star Of India’s win here at 10 furlongs certainly suggested plenty more improvement to come when he steps up to 1½ miles. Ryan Moore’s mount had a couple of lengths to find on the leaders on the home turn and took several strides to find top gear. But once he was up to speed Star Of India surged to the front and was still finding more as he hit the line with just over two lengths to spare.
Reticent Ryan Moore
Moore has now ridden three of O’Brien’s Derby candidates – Luxembourg and Changingoftheguard are the others – in the space of six days. But he was reluctant to offer any comparisons with several more Classic trials still to be run over the next few days.
“He’s a nice horse and it was only his third run, so that was a good performance,” said Moore. “He’s still learning and things were happening a little quick for him in places, but he got it done well in the end. I think he’ll improve as he’s a very laid-back horse.
"It was a big learning curve today. He ran in a straight line at Newmarket and then he's gone round a bend today. He's in the mix with the others and he'll get better, I've no doubt about that. I wouldn't compare him with yesterday's winner [Changingoftheguard] as they're slightly different horses. Yesterday's was very impressive, but the way this race was run meant that he couldn't be impressive."
When asked if either of his Chester trial winners would compare favourably with Luxembourg, third home in the 2,000 Guineas, Moore remained tight-lipped and retreated into the weighing room.
Luxembourg remains 3-1 favourite for the Derby before Lingfield’s Derby Trial on Saturday, when Charlie Appleby’s Walk Of Stars, an 11-1 shot for Epsom, will head a five-runner field. – Guardian