FIVE EPSOM Derby trials this week. Five victories for Aidan O’Brien after Cliffs Of Moher added to the trainer’s big race haul in Chester’s Dee Stakes.
The Ballydoyle handler is not finished yet.
Today he unleashes Sir John Lavery in Lingfield’s often informative Betfred Derby Trial because the track’s contours are similar to Epsom’s unique undulations.
The Galileo colt won one of his two starts last term, strolling home by seven lengths in a Gowran maiden last October, and O’Brien believes Sir John Lavery has a touch of quality as the trainer seeks a fifth win in this race.
He said: “He’s only just ready to start back, but he looked very exciting last season.
“He’d had a few little hold ups in the spring which is why he’s been aimed at the later trials.
“He works like very classy horse at home so we’ll see how he does.
“He’ll come on for the run a fair bit, but then he’ll have to.”
Godolphin will be double-handed with the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Best Solution, winner of the Autumn Stakes, joined by Charlie Appleby’s Zamfir, who landed a Leicester maiden on his only start to date.
The Epsom Derby ante-post betting is currently headed by the unbeaten Churchill who began O’Brien’s week of domination last Saturday when winning Newmarket’s 2000 Guineas.
Meanwhile O’Brien is responsible for seven of the 21 horses declared for next Thursday’s Dante Stakes at York, the last major trial for the Derby that is due to be staged on June 3.
The field is headed by John Gosden’s Cracksman who is the intended mount of Frankie Dettori. Both Benny The Dip and Golden Horn, the trainer’s two previous Derby winners, won the Dante as part of their build-up.
Gosden is double-handed in Wednesday’s Musidora Stakes for fillies, a prep race for the Epsom Oaks, courtesy of Shutter Speed and Icespire.
James Doyle has been lined up to replace Harry Bentley aboard star sprinter Limato this summer.
The Henry Candy-trained five-year-old has won eight of his career 15 starts, including two Group One successes under Bentley in the July Cup at Newmarket and the Prix de la Foret at Chantilly last season.
However, he disappointed on his final start of 2016 in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and failed to fire on his return to action at Meydan, and owner Paul Jacobs has decided to change his rider.
Doyle, who is retained by Godolphin, has ridden Limato on four occasions, winning three of those outings.
Bentley confirmed he had lost the ride yesterday. He said: “I’m not going to lie, it’s a massive setback for me and I’m incredibly disappointed to have lost that ride. As a jockey you really need that one horse that puts you out there and unfortunately I’ve lost that, but take nothing away, I’ve had some amazing days with him, so I’m very, very grateful for those.
“He gave me two of my best days of racing so far. We had some fantastic times and that can’t be taken away from me, he’s taken me to a new level and given me some opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
The announcement came days after it was confirmed that North Yorkshire jockey Dougie Costello would no longer ride dual Group One winner Quiet Reflection from the Leyburn yard of Karl Burke.