Australia remains on course for Epsom

Hot favourite Australia remains on course for the Epsom Derby and is one of six colts engaged for trainer Aidan O’Brien.

Australia remains on course for Epsom

O’Brien, who is seeking his third consecutive Derby triumph, could also be represented by Orchestra, Kingfisher, Geoffrey Chaucer, Adelaide and Gypsy King.

Snow Sky meanwhile has been given the go-ahead to run in the classic.

Michael Stoute’s colt features in the 27 contenders left in at the latest scratching deadline and will now take his chance at Epsom on June 7.

Snow Sky, who was also under consideration for the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, was a most impressive winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial on May 10 and is around the 16-1 mark for Epsom glory.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “We have given it good consideration and, all things considered, Prince Khalid was happy to go to Epsom with Snow Sky.”

John Gosden is responsible for second-favourite Western Hymn, who is unbeaten in three starts, including when successful in the Classic Trial at Sandown.

Another trial winner who could line up is the Dermot Weld-trained Fascinating Rock, while the second and third from York’s Dante Stakes, Arod and True Story, also go forward.

William Haggas is the only trainer with a 100 per cent record in the Investec Derby, having scored with Shaamit back in 1996, and has left in Our Channel.

Kingston Hill and Toast Of New York remain in the mix, with French interests this year sharpened by the presence of Karakontie and Norse Prize.

Western Hymn pleased Gosden when coming through a strong gallop before racing at Lingfield.

The High Chaparral colt, who beat Snow Sky in April, was settled several lengths behind his work companion by William Buick, with the pair going a good gallop.

Asked to close on rounding the home turn, Western Hymn stretched out well to the line, if hanging slightly to his left.

Gosden said: “They went a mile in 1.37.1/1.37.2 so they didn’t hang around.

“They went off sensible but finished very strongly and he did his usual playboy act, looking for the odd low flying seagull, but I was happy with him. We came here for the experience, as it’s left-handed, but he’s always done that (hang) when he hits the front, in all his races.

“It was pretty testing ground at Sandown, I nearly didn’t run him, he’d never been touched with the stick before so he was reacting to that. He needs more experience and we’ll probably take him to Epsom and have a spin there a week tomorrow (Breakfast with the Stars).

“Benny The Dip (Gosden’s Derby winner) had a bit more experience at two having won a Racing Post Trophy so this horse has a bit of catching up to do on experience.

“This horse plays up a bit at home, that’s just him.

“He’s fit enough, they clocked a very good time there so I’m happy with that.

“He’ll go to Epsom and have a look at the track and keep on learning.”

Gosden’s Taghrooda meanwhiloe is the star name among the 24 going forward in the Investec Oaks on June 6.

The daughter of Sea The Stars won her maiden last season and looked destined for a big future when running away with the Pretty Polly Stakes on her return.

Her owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum also has a possible powerful second string to his bow in the Dermot Weld-trained Tarfasha, winner of the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.

A couple of fillies who ran well in the Qipco 1000 Guineas are still in the mix, with Olly Stevens’ Lightning Thunder, a possible for the Irish Guineas this weekend, and Godolphin’s Ihtimal having been left in.

David Simcock’s Madame Chiang was impressive in winning the Musidora at York, a key trial for the Oaks, but needs suitably soft ground to take her chance.

The Charlie Hills-trained Cambridge was sent off favourite for that race and while she disappointed, owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said: “We have found nothing untoward after Cambridge’s run at York.

“It was a bit disappointing, there is no question about that, as we had hoped and expected better.

“Whatever the ground was, she should have run better. I would say the Investec Oaks would be a tough ask, but we still wanted to give her that option.”

Aidan O’Brien has left six in but surprisingly the shortest-priced of those, Palace, is as big as 16-1. Wonderfully, Bracelet and Tapestry are still engaged for Ballydoyle.

Others to stand their ground are Ed Dunlop’s Amazing Maria, a late absentee form the 1000 Guineas, and Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Shamkala, although she is expected to run in the Prix de Diane instead.

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