by Stable Lad

THE early betting sounding boards for the two Epsom Classics, the Derby and the Oaks, do give the distinct impression that the Aidan O’Brien stable holds almost all the answers as to where to find the winners of these two races.

Over the past weeks, Ballydoyle has been sending horses on fact-finding missions to all of the important races in the English Calendar, races that are normally associated with the traditional “classic trial” mode.

The O’Brien horses don’t necessarily need to win these races, but only go to seek out the possible strength, or indeed lack of it, of those horses he will be in conflict with on his always well-planned raids.

It must be said that O’Brien just has to have the best trial tackle of any stable, literally in the world, which, coupled with an innate strategy planning talent, makes Ballydoyle a most ferocious opponent on racecourses worldwide.

Already this season, the stable has farmed the first two English Classics, the 2000 and 1000 Guineas, and is now seeking the “double-double” of the two Epsom prizes, the Derby and the Oaks, which take place in early June.

At time of writing, the stable has the two quoted favourites in both of these historic races, along with back-up candidates, so it does appear that there could be another classic double on the cards, unless the opposition from England and France can find a worthy opponent to the strong Irish challenge.

A browse through the various challengers to the dominance of Ballydoyle makes for interesting reading, for maybe there are a few horses over there who could possibly take on the O’Brien clan with a better than even chance for success.

In the Derby, taking on the Ballydoyle team, led by Camelot and Astrology, will be Main Sequence, Thought Worthy, and Bonfire, who are all recent winners, but don’t look quite good enough to repel the raiders.

In the Oaks, the O’Brien team, led by Maybe and Kissed, should surely have the beating of John Gosden’s The Fugue, who was fourth in the Guineas, and Vow, trained by Willie Haggas, who has already won five races, although both will put up stern opposition to any and all of the raiders.

One question that could help in finding the answer is to know which of the Ballydoyle horses young Joe O’Brien will ride, now that Ryan Price is slowly and gradually infiltrating more and more into the Ballydoyle inner sanctum, and making the jockey team there one of the strongest in its brilliant history.

The “maestro” Vincent O’Brien would be very proud of his namesake, and indeed, the ongoing success of the Ballydoyle Racing Complex!

We will have another browse nearer the day, and note any major moves in between.

This week’s Saturday selections are as follows, hoping for a rub of the green!


The Fab Four:

Goodwood: 2:15 Opinion, 2:45 Fiorente, 3:20 Berling, 4:25 Sea Moon