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Australia all the rage after Derby rivals fail to impress in trials

| 12.05.2014

Despite going no further than the gallops at Ballydoyle at the weekend Australia has hardened into as short as even money favourite for the Derby as none of the performers in the recognised trials were able to impress.

Fascinating Rock – 16/1 for Epsom glory – needed the stewards to intervene to maintain his unbeaten three-year-old record in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial after the Leopardstown officials deemed that original neck victor Ebanoran had interfered enough to affect the result.

Dermot Weld’s son of Fastnet Rock will bid to emulate the golden path taken by Irish greats Sinndar (2000), Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) who all won the trial before going on to claim the big one in June.

Regardless of whether the amendment was correct the performance of the winner wouldn’t have worried Aidan O’Brien with some layers even suggesting his third placed Geoffrey Chaucer (12/1) emerged from the race with stronger credentials.

The Ballydoyle Derby second string lost his two-race unbeaten record but had his momentum checked twice, once when making headway before the furlong pole and in the dash to the line.

One horse who did catch the eye in the less heralded Lingfield Trial was Snow Sky (14/1) who clearly impressed his trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

Stoute said: “I was very pleased with that. He was very professional. He’s a nice, progressive horse with a lovely temperament who stays well and has a bit of a kick.”

The son of Nayef cruised into contention two furlongs out and ran out a ready winner with all roads now presumably leading to Surrey.

However, despite the visual impression created what was left behind Stoute’s charge that day will mark him as an outsider for the Derby until he proves otherwise on the day.

Along with doubts about the form there has to be a concern that this was already his sixth race and would arrive at the tape as one of the most exposed which is historically discouraging.

For the last of the week’s Trial winners, O’Brien should know exactly where he stands next to Australia with stablemate Orchestra (20/1) the unconvincing winner of the Chester Vase.

After finding himself in front with the minimum of effort the last two furlongs didn’t pan out like they promised to with inexperience and fatigue almost combining to throw the race the way of John Gosden’s Romsdal.

It says a lot about how the race was assessed that the runner-up was immediately chalked up as the same price of the winner to win the Derby, however, Gosden later said that alternative targets are in sight for his horse.

Aside from Snow Sky, those who have ante-post investments on any of those mentioned above certainly won’t be booking any holidays on the predicted winnings and O’Brien certainly won’t be losing too much sleep.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster