It has been a campaign of crushing disappointment so far for Aidan O’Brien’s colts, with Gleneagles’ 2,000 Guineas victory one of the few bright spots from the Ballydoyle boys since the Flat season restarted.
After going into the new term as a single-digit fancy for the 2,000 Guineas and the Investec Derby, John F Kennedy’s successive last-place finishes mean the Galileo colt may never race again, while Montjeu gelding Ol’ Man River’s season followed a similarly-poor path.
Sir Isaac Newton couldn’t win a maiden at 1/6 at the start of May and has dropped out of the Derby picture since, leaving O’Brien to contemplate chucking in miler Gleneagles and filly Found at Epsom, although those plans have now been dropped.
Nevertheless, such a sorry season so far from the Wexford handler’s normally-reliable crop of colts makes O’Brien’s three remaining Derby hopefuls hard to fancy, especially with plenty of proven class left in the race.
He may have sent out the last three winners, plus two previously in 2001 and 2002, but the highest SP from that quintet was 7/1, and the other four went off between 8/13 and 7/2, so there’s little precedent for a high-priced O’Brien success in Surrey.
Furthermore, Ruler Of The World, who took the 2013 Derby at 7/1, was only just second-string for O’Brien under Ryan Moore behind 11/2 shot Battle Of Marengo, with the trainer’s son Joseph in the saddle.
The trio set to go this year, namely 12/1 shots Giovanni Canaletto and Hans Holbein and Kilimanjaro at 16/1, appear to be afterthoughts; indeed, the former lost last time out when 1/1 favourite in a Group 3 at the Curragh.
It just doesn’t feel like O’Brien’s year, while British trainer John Gosden eats up plenty of the market with 7/4 favourite Golden Horn and 6/1 candidate Jack Hobbs, who was the jolly prior to being turned over by his stablemate in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York last month.
Of the Irish raiders, Dermot Weld’s Zawraq, who splits Gosden’s duo in the market at 9/2, looks the least exposed, having built on his maiden win over Sir Isaac Newton in October with an easy 2,000 Guineas trial victory at Leopardstown in early April.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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