The Derby And Oaks Trials Are Finally Here!
The flat season kicked into overdrive on Guineas Weekend at Newmarket, though there could hardly have been a bigger contrast between the results of the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas. The 2,000 Guineas was won by the Aidan O’Brien trained Saxon Warrior who in the pre-race interviews had been described as a horse who had grown into a monster by his trainer. He duly proved him right as he stormed to a 1½-lengths success after being well-backed into 4/1 second-favouritism, giving O’Brien’s son Donnacha a first taste of Classic success.
Aidan O’Brien’s happily had to settle for third in the 1,000 Guineas though behind Billesdon Brook and Laurens, with the winner being an unconsidered 66/1 shot. She was sent-off the joint-outsider of the whole field but powered to success, despite only finishing fourth in last month’s Nell Gwyn trial over a furlong shorter.
On the back of his success, Saxon Warrior was promptly promoted to 11/10 favourite for The Derby, which is no surprise considering the Deep Impact sired colt is bred to be even better at middle-distances. He’ll be tough to beat, but the bookies will be hoping that this week’s Derby Trials throw-up one or two suitable rivals. There are also plenty of Oaks trials this week, and the ante-post market is crying for some decent performances from the fillies this week in a market that is currently 6/1 the field.
The main trials take place At Chester’s May Meeting on the 9-11 May, whilst Lingfield also stages trials for both the Oaks and Derby on Saturday 12 May.
Chester Wednesday 9 May
Cheshire Oaks 2.25
The Cheshire Oaks dates back to 1950 and is a recognised trial for The Epsom Oaks run over a trip of 1 mile 3 furlongs and 75 yards. Last year’s contest was won by Enabled who went on to win The Epsom Oaks as well as many other prestigious middle-distance races for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori. Both of them have won the Cheshire Oaks twice in the last 10 years and look likely to team-up with Award Winning this year.
However, Aidan O’Brien could have three representatives in the race which he’s won five times in the last 10 years. Interestingly, all five of those had a prep race before coming here, whilst the last three were all ridden by Ryan Moore. That suggests Magic Wand is the O’Brien stable’s number one and, with a good draw in stall-1, he looks sure to go close. Magic Wand was nibbled at in The Oaks market after Wednesday’s 48-hour declarations but there was still a little bit of 50/1 around at the time of writing.
Chester Vase 3.35
The Chester Vase is a trial for the Derby which started life in 1907. It is currently run over a trip of 1-mile 4-furlongs and 63 yards. The race has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore in the last decade with 7 wins each, 6 of which they teamed-up for, including the last five winners. However, the last horse to run in the Chester Vase and go onto win The Derby was Wings Of Eagles (also trained by Aidan O’Brien) who had only finished second to a more fancied stablemate. O’Brien and Ryan Moore look likely to team-up again with Hunting Horn who is a 33/1 shot for The Derby. However, O’Brien also has two more entries in Family Tree and Flag Of Honour.
Chester Thursday 10 May
Ormonde Stakes 3.35
The Thursday of Chester’s May Meeting is a chance for some of the older horses to shine in the Ormonde Stakes. First run in 1936, this Group 3 is run over 1 mile 5 furlongs 84 yards. It has been won by some very useful types in recent years like Harbinger, St Nicholas Abbey, and Brown Panther. Aidan O’Brien, who enjoys a great deal of success at this meeting, has won three of the last 10 renewals and his Idaho has been installed as the ante-post favourite.
However, it remains to be seen if Chester is ideal for this long-striding five-year-old. Course and distance winner Muntahaa could be an interesting opponent for trainer John Gosden who won the race last year with Western Hymn.
Chester Friday 11 May
Huxley Stakes 2.25
The older horses also get a chance to shine over 1 mile 2 furlongs and 70 yards in the Group 2 Huxley Stakes on Friday. It’s a race in which Ryan Moore has enjoyed much success riding for Aidan O’Brien and Sir Michael Stoute, winning five of the last nine renewals. However, it’s Eminent who looks the most interesting entry in the ante-post market. Tried at a variety of trips last season, he looks likely to make up into a top-class horse over this sort of trip as a 4-year-old and he could really enjoy the tight turns of Chester if allowed to adopt front-running tactics as he did when winning in France last season.
Chester Cup 3.35
The Chester Cup is a handicap that was first run in 1824 and is currently run over a trip of 2 miles 2 furlongs and 140 yards. The draw can play a crucial role in steadily run editions as it makes it very hard for horse to come from behind, though that’s easier if the race is run at a good pace.
Interestingly, three of the last seven renewals have been won by horses that have been trained by trainers more commonly associated with being jumps trainers. Therefore, Who Dares Wins trained by Alan King and Magic Circle trained by Ian Williams are two very interesting possible runners.
Lingfield Saturday 12 May
Lingfield Oaks Trial 1.55
The Lingfield Oaks Trial was first run in 1933 and is currently run over 1 mile 3 furlongs and 133 yards. Several Epsom Oaks winners have done the double, though the 2008 Epsom Oaks winner Look Here was the last horse to run her before her Oaks success, finishing second. Notable winners since then are Midday and Seventh Heaven. Ralph Beckett, who trained Look Here, has also won two of the last five renewals and looks to have an interesting contender in the once-raced Cecchini.
Lingfield Derby Trial 2.30
The Lingfield Derby Trial was first run a year earlier than the Lingfield Oaks Trial in 1932 and is now run over the same distance as the Oaks Trial of 1 mile 3 furlongs and 133 yards. However, the race has not proved a good Derby Trial in recent years as the last Derby winner to win this race was High Rise in 1998. Aidan O’Brien has four of the last 10 renewals though and has some notable entries including Nelson who is rated 112.