All Eyes On Chester With Epsom Classics Up For Grabs

Grosvenor Square |


After the shell-shock of City Of Troy's performance in Saturday's 2000 Guineas still reverberating, the Derby has a much more open look than it did last week and so the focus on Chester's May Festival will be even keener than usual. Wednesday's G3 Boodles Chester Vase has supplied the Blue Riband hero twice since 2013 and with a record 10 successes it is clear that Aidan O'Brien has come to prioritise the trial for his Epsom hopefuls. Ryan Moore had the pick of a duo this time and has opted for the form choice Grosvenor Square (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), as tailor-made a Derby candidate as can be found anywhere being from the family of Urban Sea and therefore Galileo himself.

Dynamic with his all-the-way tour de force when last seen in Leopardstown's G3 Eyrefield S. in October, the half-brother to the G1 Irish Derby winner Santiago (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}) is joined by the Dylan Browne McMonagle-ridden Agenda (Ire). Another son of Galileo, he earned TDN Rising Star status when taking the same Dundalk maiden in March won by the yard's 2022 Chester Vase scorer Changingoftheguard (Ire).

“He looks the clear form choice on his form at two. I didn't ride him in any of his three starts last year, but he followed up a good third in the Beresford when an impressive winner of a group three at Leopardstown on deep ground,” Moore said of Grosvenor Square. “He promises to be well suited to this trip and there is no reason to think he won't be as least as effective on a decent surface. In fact, he will probably improve for it. He's a good prospect, but our other Galileo colt, Agenda, is far from out of this, either.”

This select affair could easily shake up the Derby market, with Juddmonte's Cadogan Place (GB) (Frankel {GB}), a full-brother to Quadrilateral (GB), re-opposed by Godolphin's Hidden Law (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), a son of the Oaks runner-up Secret Gesture (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) who he beat by a short head on debut at Southwell in March. Hidden Law has since won impressively at Newbury and could bolster  Charlie Appleby's already-solid Epsom hand.

“He's a nice colt who has just taken a bit of time which is why he started so late, he's a big horse,” Juddmonte's European racing manager Barry Mahon said of Cadogan Place. “I suppose we're going to find out what we have and we didn't have the Derby on our minds, simply as in he didn't make it to the track at two. He's a fine, big, well-bred horse and very nice physically. He's taken his time to mature, but he passed his first test and we're stepping up to the next level and if he passes that then there's all the conversations to be had.”

Also in the mix is Rachel Hood's imposing Wolverhampton novice winner Pappano (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), who represents the Gosdens successful 12 months ago. “He won well at Wolverhampton first time out this year and has come forward for that run,” Thady Gosden said. “He is stepping up in grade significantly, but he is a horse we have always liked. He is obviously still inexperienced and he's stepping into a solid race where Grosvenor Square sets the standard off 109, but the race looks a good fit for him.”


Fillies Take Their Turn In The Cheshire Oaks…

Also on the card is the Listed Cheshire Oaks, where the key pointer looks to be the 10-furlong Leopardstown maiden won by the Joseph O'Brien-trained Galileo Dame (Ire) (Galileo Gold {GB}). She is re-opposed by Ballydoyle's runner-up Rubies Are Red (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), the daughter of Red Evie (Ire) (Intikhab) who was in turn in front of the stable's Listed Victor McCalmont Memorial S. runner Flight Of Fancy (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). This was the maiden in which Above The Curve (American Pharoah) and Thoughts Of June (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) filled the first two places two years ago only for the form to be turned around here, while 12 months ago Savethelastdance (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) also got off the mark in that before delivering her stunning performance in this trial.

“She won really nicely at Leopardstown and now steps up slightly in trip which we think she will handle fine,” Joseph O'Brien said of Galileo Dame. “Her two runs so far have been on soft ground, so getting on better ground will be a slight unknown for her. However, we think she is a nice filly who will be able to hold her own in listed company going forward.”

Ryan Moore has passed over the ride on Rubies Are Red for the Dundalk maiden winner Port Fairy (Ire) (Australia {GB}) and he rarely gets it wrong, particularly in this which he boasts five successes during the last 10 years. “I have been on board both for their runs this year and Port Fairy showed a good attitude to win at Dundalk, where she probably did it a bit snugly,” he said. “Rubies Are Red is a sister to Found among others and I think she probably finished second to a very good filly in Galileo Dame, who she meets again here. Improvement is needed from both, but of course the potential is there after just the two starts.”

One who could yet become a leading British Oaks contender is the impressive Wolverhampton debut winner Forest Fairy (Ire) (Waldgeist {GB}), a certain stayer descended from Gestut Ammerland's ground-breaking Borgia (Ger) (Acatenango {Ger}). “It was a good effort first time and I don't think we were expecting it,” trainer Ralph Beckett said. “She has done well for the time she has been given in between. She's a tall, well-balanced filly who has worked well on the grass at home and we're looking forward to it. This is the right place for her and she's been training well in the run up to it.”

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