How is the Epsom Derby Looking after the Trial Races?

The Epsom Derby is just two weeks away, and we are now at the end of the busy trial period, where horses put their reputations on the line ahead of the big one. Aidan O’Brien has dominated the trials, winning the big Derrinstown Trial in Ireland as well as sending over horses to successfully win the Chester Vase and the Lingfield Derby Trial. The only big trial he didn’t win was the Dante at York earlier this week, and once more the Irish handler looks as though he will have a strong hand in the big race.

The question though, is what will he run? Will all of his trial winners run against each other? Sir Dragonet was visually the most impressive of them all when winning the Chester Vase, but he isn’t even in the Derby, and it would cost £85,000 to add him to the field. While he would go to the race with a great chance of winning, is it worth the money to put him in there, with the other chances that the Ballydoyle team have. I think he goes, and if he was trained by anyone else then he certainly would, but don’t be surprised is Aidan keeps him for something else with the runners he has.

Broome won the Derrinstown in Ireland and there was a lot to like about his performance. He certainly looks capable of being a top contender, and could well be the first string from the O’Brien yard. He wasn’t visually as impressive as Sir Dragonet on the day, but everything he did in the Derrinstown suggests that he needs further to be seen at his best. That race was 1m2f while the Epsom Derby is 1m4f, and sure to suit, he looks an out and out stayer.

Of the O’Brien winners from the trials, Anthony Van Dyck is probably the least fancied of the trio. He won the Lingfield Derby Trial, which on paper looked as though it was the weakest of the three trial races. He didn’t come away from the field in commanding fashion like you would like to have seen from him, and on the formbook he has the least going for him out of these three.

Then we have the Dante, won by Telecaster who is trained by Hughie Morrison. He is another who needs supplementing for the race at £85,000, but was mightily impressive at York this week. The Dante is always regarded as a very strong Derby trial, and this renewal looked to be as good as ever. He was up with the pace despite them going quick and he held off Too Darn Hot, the champion 2yo from last season, to land the prize. I expect him to be supplemented and I think he goes extremely close in the big one.

Too Darn Hot has been amongst the Derby favourites all winter but after the Derby it was revealed by trainer John Gosden that he would not go for the race, and instead would head to Royal Ascot where he will drop back in trip to one mile in the St James’ Palace.

The Derby picture looks wide open, with two of the main contenders still needing to be supplemented, and question marks surrounding how many and which horses Aidan O’Brien will run. At this early stage, I think Telecaster is the most impressive trial winner of them all, and I expect to see him entered in the Epsom Derby over the coming days after his run at York.