The Derby: no special measures in place for City Of Troy after blowout

<span>City Of Troy is favourite for the Derby despite his Guineas flop when running at Newmarket, above.</span><span>Photograph: David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA</span>
City Of Troy is favourite for the Derby despite his Guineas flop when running at Newmarket, above.Photograph: David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA

There will be no special measures to ensure that City Of Troy, the likely favourite, remains relaxed before the race as he attempts to bounce back from a dismal 2,000 Guineas run in the Derby at Epsom on Saturday, Aidan O’Brien, the colt’s trainer, said at the track on Friday.

O’Brien believes that City Of Troy, last year’s outstanding champion two-year-old colt, became upset in the stalls before the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in early May, which raised his heart-rate towards its maximum much earlier than required and led to him fading steadily through the field after racing up with the pace to halfway.

Related: Derby dream may become reality for 91-year-old environmental campaigner

The bleak expanse of Newmarket Heath is a world away from the noise and hubbub of Flat racing’s most historic day at the races, and many colts have become unsettled in the pre-race preliminaries over the years. O’Brien, though, is confident that Ryan Moore, his jockey, and Epsom’s racecourse staff will be able to keep his stable star calm and relaxed.

“We’ll take it easy going down,” O’Brien said. “He got a little bit anxious in the stalls at Newmarket so hopefully he won’t be in [the stalls] too early, that’s all we can do really.

“I don’t think he did enough [at Newmarket] to ask [to go in last], but obviously everyone is always very accommodating, and they’ll try to look after everyone as best they can, and that’s all we can do.

“I don’t think he’ll go down early, we’ll keep it the same as usual. Everything’s been smooth with him since the Guineas and we’re very happy with him.”

City Of Troy has veered one way and then another in the Derby betting since his flop last time, like a well-oiled racegoer heading home from the Hill, and 24 hours before the off-time for the premier Classic, it is still not certain that last year’s champion juvenile will set off as the favourite.

But he is still the only place to start when assessing the 16 contenders for the 245th Derby, as he is still 5lb clear of the field on his peak Timeform rating and is the prime contender, on jockey bookings at least, from the most successful stable in Derby history.

At the 8-1 that was available immediately after the 2,000 Guineas, he would be a reasonable bet on those factors alone. City Of Troy’s subsequent, steady progress towards the top of the market has owed as much to the horses that have been ruled out – including Economics, the emphatic Dante Stakes winner, and Godolphin’s Arabian Crown – as it has to any convincing explanation of why he ran so poorly at Newmarket.

At 7-2, though – which suggests a win chance of around 20% – he makes little appeal, given that there are a host of alternatives to City Of Troy with much stronger recent form and pedigrees that suggest they will improve significantly for the step up to a mile and a half.

Several horses immediately behind City Of Troy in the betting fit snugly into that category, but Ancient Wisdom, who was soundly beaten in the Dante, feels a little like the third-string from Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin stable, which has lost two emphatic trial winners to injury in recent weeks.

Ambiente Friendly, the Lingfield trial winner, has obvious claims but might just be more of a 10-furlong horse and may need to settle better than he did at Lingfield to get home. For me, that leaves a choice between O’Brien’s (marginal) second-string, Los Angeles, and Roger Teal’s Dancing Gemini, who would probably have won the French 2,000 Guineas last time with more luck in running.

Worcester 12.40 Brandt 1.10 Ballinoulart 1.45 Jackie Can 2.20 Highlands Legacy 2.55 Halifax 3.30 Isabella Bee 4.05 Soir De Gala

Epsom 1.25 Portsmouth 2.00 Sparks fly 2.35 Highland Avenue 3.10 Grandlad 3.45 Dream Composer (nb) 4.30 Los Angeles (nap) 5.15 Kotari 5.50 Strike Red

Musselburgh 1.40 Golden Rainbow 2.15 Rock Melody 2.50 Combat Soldier 3.25 Jabaara 4.00 Watcha Matey 4.45 Circus Lion 5.20 Masham Moor

Hexham 4.15 Serious Ego 4.55 The White Volcano 5.30 Ashington 6.05 Kaaress 6.35 Halpha Soleil 7.07 No Rematch

Doncaster 4.38 Plus Point 5.08 Ripple Effect 5.40 Granger Bay 6.15 Wild Waves 6.50 Silver Samurai 7.20 Princess Karine 7.50 Emperor Caradoc 8.20 Dazy Mazy

Stratford 5.23 Winterwatch 5.55 Stay If U Want To 6.28 Voice Of Calm 7.00 Porter In The Park 7.30 Broken Quest 8.00 My Virtue 8.30 Forget The Way 9.00 Lost In The Mist

Lingfield 5.35 Shaheen Saqaar 6.10 Queens Fort 6.45 Isle Of Sark 7.15 Amestris 7.45 Usuario Amigo 8.15 Yantarni 8.45 El Hibri

Both are stepping up to 12 furlongs for the first time but are bred to get every yard and more, with Camelot as their sire and, in Dancing Gemini’s case, another Derby winner – Australia – close up in the dam’s side pedigree too.

His stamina is all on paper for the moment, however, as he has yet to race beyond a mile, and while his price of around 12-1 is very fair, it is also difficult to overlook how hard Los Angeles (4.30) hit the line over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown. He remains unbeaten after three starts, has the greatest scope for progress at the trip and could well be Aidan O’Brien’s 10th Derby winner by 4.35pm on Saturday.

Weld lifts Oaks with Ezeliya

Dermot Weld bridged a 43-year gap since his first Oaks winner in 1981 as Ezeliya, a 13-2 chance in the famous green and red colours of the Aga Khan, came with a strong run down the middle of the track to take the fillies’ Classic by three lengths at Epsom on Friday.

Dance Sequence (7-1), from Charlie Appleby’s yard in Newmarket, was second with War Chimes, a 50-1 outsider, in third, but Ylang Ylang, 13-8 favourite to give Aidan O’Brien an 11th win in the Oaks, ran a disappointing race to finish only sixth of the 12 starters.

Chris Hayes, Ezeliya’s jockey, was clearly going best as the field turned for home and while Dance Sequence briefly took over in front with a quarter of a mile to run, Hayes was in command at the furlong pole as Dance Sequence became slightly unbalanced on the camber.

“I had huge respect for the favourite [Ylang Ylang],” Weld said afterwards, “but I always had confidence in my filly and I thought Chris Hayes gave her a peach of a ride. He was perfectly positioned throughout the race and he had it won from a long way out.

“She’s a beautifully mannered animal and a beautiful filly to train. Patience has paid dividends with her, we took our time with her as a two-year-old, and just gave her one run this year when she won nicely at Navan. We will look at the Irish Oaks [in July] or give her an autumn campaign.”

Earlier on the card, O’Brien’s five-year-old Luxembourg made all the running under Ryan Moore to win the Group One Coronation Cup from another veteran, the eight-year-old Hamish.

“Ryan controlled everything and at halfway, he had everyone where he wanted them,” O’Brien said. “It was an incredible ride.”