Somehow is likely to start favourite to give Aidan O’Brien a fifth win in Cheshire Oaks at Chester but it is the search for a potential top-notch Derby colt which is likely to focus the champion trainer’s attention for the rest of this week.
If there’s a certain irony in a filly topping the Derby betting, it’s added to by how Sunday’s brilliant 1,000 Guineas winner, Minding, is owned by the Coolmore team, the world’s most influential commercial breeding operation.
She is a general 5-2 favourite ‘with a run’ in most ante-post betting lists for the world’s most coveted classic at Epsom in exactly a month’s time although it is the results of the upcoming Trials which could largely determine whether or not Minding gets a chance to become the first filly to win the Derby in a century.
US Army Ranger is a 4-1 market leader in straight Derby betting and is set to try and earn his Epsom spurs in Thursday’s MBNA Chester Vase.
O’Brien has already outlined provisional plans for Cook Islands to take in Friday’s Dee Stakes while Beacon Rock and Kellstrom are possible contenders for Saturday’s Lingfield Derby Trial.,
The Group Two Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud is another recognised classic trial and Ballydoyle's determination to test the credentials of their large team of blue-blooded three year old colts is reflected in having nine of the 13 entries left in Sunday's €100,000 Derrinstown Trial at Leopardstown.
US Army Ranger is among the nine hopefuls but indications are that Idaho, currently a 25-1 shot for Epsom, is likely to lead Ballydoyle hopes after his promising return to action when runner-up to Harzand in the Ballysax last month.
The Ballysax-Derrinstown route is a tried and test path to Epsom although it is 14 years since High Chaparral was the last of a hat-trick of winners to go on to Derby glory.
O’Brien holds a record-breaking tally of 10 wins in the Derrinstown but it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Ballydoyle in the race with the highly-touted John F Kennedy starting a 1-4 favourite last year only to finish last of three.
He then also finished last of seven to Golden Horn in the Dante which takes place at York next week and is likely to provide the last clue to the likely make up of this year’s Derby, which could yet see Minding in the reckoning.
“The next week or 10 days will tell a lot as there’s a lot of trials, fillies and colts, going to be run so usually . . we watch those trials, see what happens and then everybody has a talk about where they’re all going to go next,” said O’Brien.
Ground conditions at Leopardstown are currently “yielding” with a largely dry weather outlook towards the weekend although there is a risk of some showers on Friday night.
Diamondsandrubies won at Chester last year before finishing fourth in the Epsom Oaks and landing the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes.
Somehow is a general 25-1 shot in an Oaks market dominated by Minding and will attempt to build on her impressive maiden defeat of Shamreen at Leopardstown when she's ridden by Ryan Moore at the Roodee.
Somehow is a daughter of the 2006 Oaks heroine, Alexandrova, and her trainer said: “We think she’ll learn a lot. We liked her going to Leopardstown and obviously she’s out of Alexandrova. The trip shouldn’t be a problem to her so we’ll see how she gets on.”
Moore is on Quick Jack for Tony Martin in the Betway Chester Cup, race in which the Meath trainer has turned to Donnacha O'Brien for his other runner, Heartbreak City.
Quick Jack has got a high draw in stall 16 of the 19 runners but the other Irish hope, Dermot Weld’s Silver Concorde, is drawn in the middle of the field.