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Ladbrokes are one of the bookmakers keeping Australia onside for Saturday’s Derby and it would be no surprise if the Magic Sign were proved correct with their 9/4 quote about the Aidan O’Brien horse.
Naturally, any runner for this particular trainer will be under the microscope thanks to O’Brien’s outstanding record in the Classics, although the Irishman hasn’t exactly cooled expectation by claiming that Australia is the best horse he has ever handled.
“From the time he worked, he always showed something different. In March and April of last year he was doing half-speeds with horses he shouldn’t have been able to do it with,” said O’Brien.
“When you see the splits in the Guineas they were all 11 seconds and looking at the video he was doing half-speed in the first half of the race. It was an unusually strongly-run race and he was cruising along.
“I’d never say the Guineas is a trial, but the reason we went was it was good ground and a mile on a straight course. It’s the most straightforward trial for him. It is run over a straight mile and gave us a five-week gap ahead of Epsom.”
Australia is a best price 9/4 to claim victory in this race and his trainer claims “we’ve never had a horse like this before” although some will point to potential stamina issues, with the mile-and-a-half trip a venture into the unknown.
Assessing his Derby credentials, jockey Joseph O’Brien said: “I wouldn’t want to swap him for anything else at all – either in the Derby or back over mile. I like him and always have done. I really believe in the horse. To be successful, you have to believe in your own horse.”
The big question is who can challenge the favourite and perhaps Geoffrey Chaucer is the horse to back each-way on that premise, with the second favourite also running for O’Brien.
Ryan Moore is in the saddle and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of that win twelve months ago when Ruler of the World surprised everyone with a magnificent win.
Kingston Hill runs for Roger Varian and this horse could benefit from a flash flood at Epsom before the Derby. Some softer ground would benefit this colt who struggled on fast ground in the 2000 Guineas before running into eighth place.
This horse was unbeaten in three starts on a soft surface last season, with True Story, Ebanoran and Western Hymn also looking to feature at the business end of the race.