One of the features of this week’s Chester trials was the lack of competitiveness of the Aidan O’Brien runners. Those sent, whether in genuine belief of potential success or just a toe being dipped in the water, never managed to land a blow. It must be noted that none of the stable’s perceived stars were on show and perhaps those that did run showed enough to encourage the Ballydoyle Team that their classier inmates waiting to throw their hats in the ring could yet be genuine Derby contenders.
In today’s Lingfield Derby Trial, O’Brien is double-handed with Criterium de Saint Cloud fourth Don Carlos and maiden winner Captain James Cook but one can’t help feeling that these are just two more foot soldiers on yet another reconnaissance mission.
It’s rather surprising that Johnny Murtagh has chosen to ride Captain James Cook given that he just managed to get the better of a long-standing maiden at Dundalk on his seasonal debut. He needs to take a massive leap forward to enter the Derby picture and given the rider’s preference it’s easy to assume that the over-looked Don Carlos is not yet ready to leave behind the disappointment of his flop in last month’s Timeform Trophy.
Once again, this isn’t the most competitive of trials and Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Myth is an interesting looking runner having made a successful winning debut at Newmarket just last month. The second, third and fourth all went on to win their maidens next time out and it could be the case that the Newmarket race was much better than it looked at the time. It’s difficult to gauge just how good this fellow could be but Stoute’s horses, much like Aidan O’Brien’s, are often under-priced in the market and he’s plenty short enough in today’s betting.
Bullet Train is the other really interesting horse in the race as he made a pleasing debut on his only outing of 2009 and looked a progressive sort when touched off in a ten-furlong Conditions Stakes at Newbury on his seasonal bow last month. He ran freely for much of that race but he threw down a strong challenge up the homestraight, all the while indicating that he needed a step up to today’s sort of trip. The form of that race was seen in a positive light when fourth-placed Rasmy went close in yesterday’s Dee Stakes at Chester.
Of the other three runners, Hot Prospect is the most likely candidate as he was a reasonable third behind Coordinated Cut and Ameer in the Timeform Trophy and is likely to be fine with the extra demands on his stamina today. However, he’s an unspectacular type with less scope for improvement than some of his rivals and, in truth, it’ll be surprising if this race doesn’t develop into a head to head between Desert Myth and Bullet Train.
The latter, whose dam is a half-sister to Arlington Million winner Powerscourt, was reportedly in need of the outing at Newbury and he looks the type to make a real impact this season. Although the Derby may look a fanciful entry at this stage Henry Cecil’s Bullet Train can, at least, earn his place at Epsom with victory here.