O'Brien warns punters to hold fire

Aidan O’Brien has warned ante-post punters to hold their bets before the Investec Derby at Epsom next week.

Aidan O’Brien has warned ante-post punters to hold their bets before the Investec Derby at Epsom next week.

The market for the blue riband Classic was muddied further yesterday when the Ballydoyle handler issued a statement saying the long-time favourite St Nicholas Abbey had disappointed Johnny Murtagh in a gallop.

Stablemate Jan Vermeer replaced him at the head of the betting but with impressive trial winners Cape Blanco and Midas Touch also in the mix, O’Brien has urged punters to wait until final running plans are confirmed.

Speaking on Channel 4’s The Morning Line O’Brien said: “St Nicholas Abbey worked with Midas Touch yesterday and worked as well as him but that was the unusual thing, normally St Nicholas Abbey works head and shoulders above everything.

“He did a piece of work on Tuesday and Johnny was over the moon with him but he was a little bit disappointed yesterday morning so we decided to let everybody know.

“The problem with training horses is that everyone is different, there is no rule. His work was good, he worked very well.

“Colm (O’Donoghue) rode Midas Touch and he thought he had improved a lot from Leopardstown so that’s also there but usually St Nicholas Abbey is head and shoulders above everything, he’s the most incredible worker you’ve ever seen.

“I suppose it might have just taken Johnny back a bit that he just worked as well as Midas Touch.

“He wasn’t disappointing, just not as scintillating as he usually is.

“There is always a possibility that any horse wouldn’t run, everything has to be right for them to run in a race like that so you could never say never.

“I think we’ll make a final decision in the middle of the week. Obviously we have to decide which horses will go to France. Viscount Nelson will definitely go there and whether something goes with him will be decided in the middle of the week.

“They’ll work again on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the horses, we’ll have the main work done by then.

“The two intended for Epsom were St Nicholas Abbey and Midas Touch, along with At First Sight.

“Jan Vermeer and Cape Blanco had the possibility of going to France too so if there was any doubt about St Nicholas Abbey there is a big chance Jan Vermeer might go to Epsom as well.

“But it’s all up in the air and I would say to everybody to just wait and see because we wouldn’t want to run him unless we were very happy with him.”

O’Brien also refused to rule out the possibility of Kieren Fallon being on board one of his Derby runners.

“Obviously Johnny will ride one and we’ve got Colm and Seamus (Heffernan) here and the outside jockeys like Kieren and Pat Smullen. There’s some very good jockeys available so I don’t think we’ll be worrying about that,” he added.

Following the latest update from Ballydoyle bookmakers William Hill cut Jan Vermeer still further into 5-2 from 11-4 whilst leaving St Nicholas Abbey unchanged at 3-1.

The Leeds firm also trimmed Midas Touch into 6-1 from 8s with Cape Blanco still at 8-1.

Investec Derby – William Hill bet: 5-2 Jan Vermeer, 3-1 St Nicholas Abbey, 6-1 Midas Touch, 8-1 Cape Blanco, 9-1 Bullet Train, Rewilding, Workforce, 11-1 Azmeel, 20-1 bar.

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