Sir Ron Priestley has made a fantastic return from a year and a half off the track this season, with a successful comeback in the Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham followed by an impressive front-running victory in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.
Trainer Mark Johnston has given the five-year-old the option of turning out just under a fortnight later for the Group Two feature on the third and final day of York’s Dante Festival.
The Middleham maestro could also saddle the ultra-consistent Nayef Road, who made a promising start to his campaign when a close-up third behind star stayer Stradivarius in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot ahead of a likely tilt at the Ascot Gold Cup.
Aidan O’Brien also has a couple of contenders inAmhran Na Bhfiann and Santiago.
Last season’s Derby third Amhran Na Bhfiann recently made a winning return to action at Dundalk, while Irish Derby winner Santiago can be expected to improve from his comeback fourth in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.
Andrew Balding has both Morando and Spanish Mission, with Roger Varian’s Believe In Love the only filly in the mix.
The Ed Dunlop-trained Red Verdon and Wells Farhh Go from Tim Easterby’s yard complete the potential field.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet leapt to the head of the Epsom Derby ante-post market with an impressive trial victory at Leopardstown in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes – a race which has been springboard to a succession of the Ballydoyle trainer’s champions over the years.
Bolshoi Ballet, who was following up his course-and-distance victory in the Ballysax Stakes last month, was quickly promoted to outright favouritism for next month’s Derby.
He had previously shared the top of the Derby market with unbeaten stablemate High Definition, who had to miss his intended prep run in Lingfield’s Derby Trial on Saturday because of a poor blood test, but may yet be in action in the Dante Stakes at York this week. O’Brien was notable among the admirers of Bolshoi Ballet’s performance. “He’s very uncomplicated, quickens, relaxes,” he said.
Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a hat-trick of winners during a successful day on the opening card of Killarney’s three-day May meeting.
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