Aidan O’Brien’s Ruler Of The World ran out a wide-margin winner of the MBNA Chester Vase in the hands of Ryan Moore.
The master of Ballydoyle had saddled three of the last six winners of the recognised Derby trial in Soldier Of Fortune (2007), Golden Sword (2009) and Treasure Beach (2011) and his latest candidate was a 10-11 favourite off the back of a Curragh maiden victory a month ago.
Ruler Of The World tracked the early pace set by Mister Impatience under Ryan Moore, but took over from the home turn and soon stamped his authority on the Group Three contest, lengthening quite impressively to pass the post with six lengths in hand of Mister Impatience.
Moore said: “He did it nicely. The race worked out well for him as he got a nice lead. He’s still a bit green running round here, but once I grabbed hold of him he lengthened really well.
“He’ll learn a lot. Going round here will have done him good.”
Paul Smith, son of part-owner Derrick Smith, said: “Aidan thinks quite a lot of him, he’s been working well at home and we’re really delighted with that.
“We thought he might be a little bit green and a little bit babyish. I think with the tight, turning track and the crowd, it was a good choice (of race) and it paid dividends.
“You’d have to be very happy with him. He stayed the trip.”
Bolger considers Trading options
The Betfred Dante Stakes at York is a possible seasonal starting point for Jim Bolger’s smart colt Trading Leather but it seems unlikely he will line up in the Investec Derby
The Teofilo colt was beaten by leading Derby contender Battle Of Marengo on his racecourse debut at Leopardstown in September before going on to win his next two starts in impressive fashion.
He signed off his juvenile year with a fair fifth in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, but has yet to reappear as a three-year-old as Bolger desperately seeks a sound surface.
Asked whether the Dante could be an option, the trainer said: “It could. I have to find somewhere I can run him on some good ground.”
Trading Leather does hold an entry in the Investec Derby but Bolger appears set to rely solely on his 2000 Guineas hero Dawn Approach.
Bolger said: “We’ll have to see where he (Trading Leather) fits in (after his trial). If all goes well, I think Dawn Approach will be my only runner in the Derby at Epsom.”
Guineas glory for king Richard
Richard Hughes has accumulated a host of top-flight European races during his illustrious riding career but finally corrected one glaring omission as the Richard Hannon-trained Sky Lantern provided his first British Classic in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
The 40-year-old, son of Curragh jumps trainer Dessie Hughes, believed his wait would end 24 hours earlier in the 2000 Guineas, but Toronado was unable to fulfil his dreams with a tame fourth place behind Jim Bolger’s superstar Dawn Approach.
Hughes had banished the disappointment and steadied himself for another white-knuckle ride on hold-up filly Sky Lantern (9-1), who charged through late to deprive the sponsors’ runner Just The Judge by half a length.
Already a Group One winner in last year’s Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, Sky Lantern was collared by Hot Snap in last month’s Nell Gwyn, but Sir Henry Cecil’s filly, sent off the 5-2 favourite for the Classic, was a faded version of her former self and never got involved, eventually finishing ninth.
Just The Judge was ridden prominently by Jamie Spencer and appeared booked to maintain her unbeaten record as she passed Winning Express (eventually fourth) with a furlong to go, but Hughes once again timed his challenge to perfection and darted through to lead just before the line, with Aidan O’Brien’s contender Moth grabbing third spot.
The winning jockey said: “About bloody time. I think my wife was more upset than I was (after Toronado) - I was consoling her all night. I remember telling her it was only a horse race and there were more important things. She said, ‘I know it’s only a horse race, but you never seem to win the big ones’.
“I’ve won plenty of Classics everywhere else and I was pretty sure one day I’d get the horse, but it’s a monkey off my back. It’s very hard, as for the last 10 years Aidan O’Brien has been dominating, but Richard has been stepping up the quality.”
Hannon decided to visit his local track of Salisbury and was represented by his son and assistant, Richard jnr, who said: “We were pretty low after Saturday. It was very disappointing, but she deserved a bit of luck. She went to America and didn’t get any luck and then bumped into a very good filly (Hot Snap), who didn’t run her race today.
“I’m delighted for Hughesie. He’s one of the best jockeys ever and I’m just delighted he’s done it on one of ours. We’ll look at the Irish Guineas now, but she might well go further. I’d say a mile and a quarter would be as far as she’d go.”
Spencer was given a three-day ban (May 19-21) for using his whip on Just The Judge without allowing sufficient time to respond, while Moth was promoted to favourite for the Oaks, with her jockey Joseph O’Brien declaring: “She ran a blinder. I had to weave through to get a run and she stayed on well.”
Stylish start for Camelot
Aidan O’Brien declared himself delighted after seeing his triple Classic winner Camelot make a perfectly satisfactory return to action in the High Chaparral EBF Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh.
Winner of the 2000 Guineas and the English and Irish Derbys during a spectacular three-year-old campaign, he later recovered from colic, and was sent off the red-hot 1-3 favourite to take this Group Three prize on his comeback. Jim Bolger’s 2011 Dewhurst winner Parish Hall was expected to be the main danger.
Camelot was settled last of the five runners, but Joseph O’Brien eased him closer once they straightened up for home and it was clear he was travelling far easier than his rivals. He was shaken up and found a nice turn of foot to overhaul his pacemaker Triumphant by a length and three-quarters, with Parish Hall slightly disappointing in third.
O’Brien snr said: “I’m delighted with that. He had big colic surgery in the winter and you never really know what is going to happen, but he has all his class and speed still so it’s great.
“It was major open surgery, and after the surgery is a massive time. He went to Coolmore and was not with us for months. I was surprised at the shape he was in when he came back - that surgery is massive and we are lucky to have him.
“You take one race at a time, but the plan was always to start here, come back here for the Tattersalls Gold Cup (May 26) and then go for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (at Royal Ascot).
“He has a lot of speed - I know he got a mile and a half last year, but you saw the speed he has today, he has a lot of pace. Joseph said fitness-wise he was around 70 per cent.”
The result completed a double for the Ballydoyle team after Michaelmas justified odds-on favouritism with a workmanlike victory in the Alfred Nobel EBF Race.
Narrowly beaten on his debut at Leopardstown last month, the 2-9 favourite was sent straight to the front and while he had to be kept up to his work in the last of the five furlongs, he was good value for his winning margin of three-quarters of a length over Candy Apples, with The Organ Grinder similarly promising in third.
O’Brien snr said: “He did it nicely. He was still green in front. There is a winner’s race in Naas (May 15) he might go for. He was lazy and idling away and that’s why he let him gallop along. I thought he won well enough.”
Cooper facing lengthy break
Bryan Cooper is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after it was confirmed the leading jockey broke his leg in a fall at Down Royal on Monday.
One of the emerging stars of the National Hunt scene, Cooper shot into the limelight when riding three winners at the Cheltenham Festival, while he was also on target with First Lieutenant at the Grand National meeting at Aintree.
The young rider was partnering the Tony Martin-trained Tepalo in Monday’s Weatherbys Beginners Chase when he came to grief.
Cooper’s agent, Alan Donoghue, said: “He’s broken his left femur and it’s a clean break. It’s a bad injury.
“Nobody has put a timescale on how long he’s going to be out for yet. He’s going to have an operation later this morning, but you’d imagine it will be a good couple of months.
“It’s unfortunate but that’s racing. There are ups and downs.”