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2017 Epsom Derby Review – Part 2

By Ben Archer in Sports
| May 15, 2017 12:00 am PDT
Epsom Derby 2017

**This is part 2 of a 3 part series. You can read part 1 here.

The debate about whether CHURCHILL should contest the Epsom Derby rumbled on during the early part of the week but the Coolmore operation, which owns the 3-y-o kept tight-lipped and had every reason to.

Less than 24 hours after Churchill had run away with the Guineas, the first major Derby trial was run in Ireland and trainer Aidan O’Brien saddled three of the six-strong field.

They finished first, second and third.

The fact that the three were separated by a head and a short-head suggests they all have something to prove if they take their chance at Epsom and the bookmakers were unimpressed.

The result was as follows.

3.20 LEOPARDSTOWN

  • DOUGLAS MCARTHUR 7/1
  • YUCATAN 13/8 F
  • CAPRI 5/2
  • Winning trainer: A P O’Brien

Then all eyes turned to Chester when the May meeting began on the following Wednesday as there would be two Derby trials over the three- day meeting.

The first was the Chester Vase on Thursday where O’Brien saddled four of the eight-strong field and, for the second time inside a week, he filled the top three places in a recognized Derby trial.

The result was as follows.

3.35 CHESTER

  • 1 VENICE BEACH     5/2 F
  • 2 WINGS OF EAGLES  8/1
  • 3 THE ANVIL  7/1
  • Winning trainer: A P O’Brien

Friday saw the re-appearance of the current Derby second favorite CLIFFS OF MOHAR in the Dee Stakes and this time O’Brien made him the sole representative of the stable and he didn’t let them down.

Jockey Ryan Moore had to get to work on this son of Galileo well over three furlongs out but the further they went the better he became. There was going to be only one winner inside the final furlong as the long-striding colt really began to power home. He will relish the extra two furlongs of the Derby trip.

The result was as follows:

2.25 CHESTER

  • CLIFFS OF MOHER 4/5 F
  • BAY OF POETS 5/1
  • MAX ZORIN 25/1
  • Winning trainer: A P O’Brien

With their domination of the trials it began to look as though the Derby would just be a formality for Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore team.

After the Dee stakes, the obvious questions were asked of Kevin Buckley, the Coolmore representative on duty.

“He’s going to come on an awful lot for that. He hasn’t run since October so that was a big step up for him.

He was slow out of the stalls and Ryan had to work on him around the track. He learned a lot.

It’s highly likely he will be Epsom-bound after that performance

Asked if a decision had been made about Churchill’s participation in the Derby, Kevin would only say there are two more recognized trials still to be run and they would shuffle the pack after that.

The Lingfield Derby trial hasn’t provided a Derby winner since High Rise in 1998 but, by all accounts, this Saturday O’Brien and Coolmore were unleashing a real possible contender in the shape of SIR JOHN LAVERY.

However, in a rare setback Sir John Lavery failed to live up to expectations and O’Brien lost his first recognized Derby trial.

It went the way of the Godolphin runner BEST SOLUTION, a welcome winner for the boys in blue, who had been watching from the side-lines for most of the trials.

The result was as follows:

2.30 LINGFIELD

  • BEST SOLUTION 7/1
  • GLENCADAM GLORY 16/1
  • TARTINI 5/1
  • Winning trainer: Saeed bin Suroor

With the dust settling and really only one more recognized Derby trail to come (Dante Stakes, York) the bookmakers are pretty sure Aidan O’Brien will be lifting the Epsom trophy in June but the question is with which horse.

There is also a fly in the ointment as the Dante Stakes is the probably the most recognized Derby trial nowadays and John Gosden will put the unbeaten CRACKMAN to the test. If he lands that Group 2 prize this week Coolmore really will have a fight on their hands.

Bookmakers, like punters, cannot currently see the wood for the trees with regard to the Derby and have reported only two large wagers so far.

A £24,000 – £4,000 bet was struck at 6/1 on Cliffs of Moher after his Dee Stakes success and, previously to that, a punter had a £10,000 bet on Churchill winning the Derby immediately after he won the Guineas. He stands to pick up £70,000 should he run and win.

The current bookmaker prices are shown below.

Current Epsom Derby Prices

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