Watch what Aidan O'Brien had to say to Gary O'Brien about his Derby team after completing a four-timer at Naas on Sunday and read Andy Stephens' report.
The participation of Investec Derby favourite Sir Dragonet was thrown into doubt on Sunday when Aidan O’Brien revealed the French version is also under consideration for the unbeaten colt.
Sir Dragonet jumped to the head of the Derby market after a runaway win in this month’s Chester Vase but the Camelot colt is not entered in the premier Classic on June 1 and O’Brien said on Racing TV that a decision over whether he is supplemented, at a cost of £85,000, will not be taken until the day before, which is a week today.
The Ballydoyle maestro, having saddled a four-timer at Naas, told Gary O’Brien that the plan was also have a couple of runners in the French Derby 24 hours after the Epsom showpiece and that Sir Dragonet was among those potentially in the picture for Chantilly.
Unraced as a two-year-old, he is not entered for the French feature, either, so again would have to be supplemented.
Bookmakers responded by easing Sir Dragonet in the Derby betting. Bet365, who had offered 2-1 on Sunday morning, pushed him out to 7-2. Broome and Anthony Van Dyck, his stablemates, were cut to 9-2 and 5-1 respectively.
On the Betfair betting exchange, at 8.20pm, he was available to back at 6.6 (11-2) and available to lay at 7.2
“The lads haven’t really decided the team [for the Derby] yet. They’d like to send a couple to France and then the rest will go to Epsom,” O’Brien said. “With Sir Dragonet they have the option of going to Epsom or the French Derby – it will be one of the two.
“We’ll see how the work goes this week. All the options are open for him. The lads can decide late. He’s still a baby, he’s only had the two runs. You couldn’t be happier with those runs but I’d say it would be the day before supplementary stage that they will decide.”
It will still be something of a surprise if Sir Dragonet does not run at Epsom, despite the door being open for him to run abroad, because the Derby is the race cherished above all others by everybody connected with Ballydoyle and Coolmore.
Vincent O'Brien, Aidan's predecesor, even went as far as creating a replica of Tattenham Corner at Ballydoyle. Aidan is seeking a record-equalling seventh Derby success but has yet to win the French version, which is run over a mile and a quarter and would require Sir Dragonet to drop in distance.
O’Brien said Broome, the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial winner, and Circus Maximus, the Dee Stakes winner, were on course to run at Epsom. He also intimated Japan, fourth in the Dante at York last week, would join them.
But he stopped short of committing any of his other possibles, including Anthony Van Dyck and Cape Of Good Hope, who also won traditional Derby trials, plus such as Mohawk, runner-up in the Dee Stakes when conceding 5lb to Circus Maximus.
Japan was once considered the No 1 Derby hope at Ballydoyle and O’Brien took encouragement from his run on the Knavesmire.
O'Brien had four winners at Naas on Sunday
“We were very happy with him. We felt if he was going to run in Epsom he had to run,” he said. “The plan was to get a run into him without bottoming him because it was close enough to the Derby and he hadn’t had a run this year.
“It was a good race run at a good gallop and the first two got away. It was always going to be tough on the second group following.
“Ryan [Moore] was very happy with him and nursed him as long as he could. We felt he would come forward a nice bit for it.”
Earlier, O’Brien had said his 1000 Guineas winner, Hermosa, prominent in the Investec Oaks betting, would miss Epsom and instead run in the Irish 1000 Guineas en route to a tilt at the French Oaks.
He cited that the latter race, which he has never had the winner of, was worth twice as much as its English equivalent.
“We were thinking originally of going for the Oaks with Hermosa – but it’s less than a week between the Irish Guineas and the Oaks,” he said. “We decided we’d go to the Irish Guineas, and from there on to the French Oaks.
“The French Oaks is worth nearly twice what the English Oaks is worth, and we thought it would be a nice stepping stone to go from a mile up to a mile and a quarter.”
Other O’Brien inmates heading to the Curragh next weekend for Group One assignments are Magna Grecia and Magical.
Aidan O'Brien Derby runners and the best prices available: 7-2 Sir Dragonet; 9-2 Broome; 5-1 Anthony Van Dyck; 14-1 Japan; 20-1 Circus Maximus; 33-1 Cape Of Good Hope; 50-1 Mohawk; Norway; 66-1 Western Australia; 200-1 Sovereign; Sydney Opera House.