Aidan O’Brien keeps the faith in City Of Troy’s Derby credentials (2024)

Aidan O’Brien believes the 2,000 Guineas and dreams of a Triple Crown for City Of Troy “wasn’t meant to be” but still believes the colt could be the most talented Derby contender he has ever sent to Epsom.

Considering ‘Blue Riband’ success on June 1st at Epsom will be a record 10th for O’Brien, eclipsing even the legendary Lester Piggott, it is quite a statement of faith in City Of Troy to rank him above the likes of Galileo, High Chaparral and last year’s winner Auguste Rodin.

However, the level of expectation around the Justify colt, labelled “our Frankel” by one of the Coolmore ownership after his two year old career, continues despite his abject failure at Newmarket earlier this month.

O’Brien has since uncovered a number of other Derby contenders through established trials, particularly Los Angeles after his Leopardstown success on Sunday, but 24 hours later the champion trainer insisted his faith in City Of Troy is undiminished.

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Gordon Elliott turns to Mark Walsh for ride on Irish Point in Saturday’s French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil

Aidan O’Brien invests a lot of credibility in City Of Troy as Guineas flop goes for Derby glory at Epsom

“For us, I’m not sure we ever sent a horse to the Derby with as much ability. Everything he was doing last year, the statistics were adding up. Even though he won a Dewhurst and only ran over seven furlongs last season, we always knew he was going to be a middle-distance horse,” he said.

“Everything has been good since [the Guineas] and we just accepted that all these things just happened and went wrong on the day and we’ve decided to stay with the plan. He’s done nothing since to make us change the plan. The plan was always to start with the Guineas and go on to the Derby and then go wherever after that and that’s where we still are.

“Sometimes it happens and obviously it happened in the Guineas and it happened again last weekend [in the French Guineas, with Henry Longfellow]. Sometimes things don’t work and really I would always say that it’s my responsibility to make sure it works and when it doesn’t work, well we’ve done our homework but maybe we didn’t do it all properly. That’s the way I would look at the Guineas.

“When he went down to the start he should have been relaxed, but he went into the stalls and he was revved up. He wasn’t flustered, but obviously his mind wasn’t in the right place, because he’s a very good natured horse – unusually good for a colt. He’s very calm and relaxed, but it all just happened at the wrong few seconds.

“But we all know horse racing and we all know life – no one knows what’s going to happen in the next half-hour. Listen, the Guineas just wasn’t meant to be. I feel like, myself, I hadn’t got him prepared properly, so what we would have learned in the Guineas will hopefully help us to prepare him properly for the Derby,” O’Brien added.

Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace Stakes is next on the agenda for Henry Longfellow after his disappointing effort in Sunday’s French 2,000 Guineas.

Irish-trained horses might have been out of luck in Sunday’s French Guineas but raiders from Ireland are set to try their luck over jumps this Saturday in France’s Champion Hurdle at Auteuil.

A handful of Irish hopes, topped by Gordon Elliott’s Irish Point and Shark Hanlon’s Hewick, are among 17 entries left in the €390,000 Grande Course De Haies D’Auteuil.

Runner-up to State Man in both the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and at Punchestown, Irish Point is on course to try to secure championship honours of his own in the French version run over an extended three miles.

Irish Point’s most impressive career victory to date came when routing his opposition in Leopardstown’s three-mile Grade One prize at Christmas.

Hewick finished fourth in the race to Theleme a year ago while other Irish possibles are John McConnell’s Mahler Mission, Home By The Lee, and Willie Mullins’s sole entry, Mr Incredible.

Mullins, who last week expressed some fears about the state of the going at Auteuil, has dramatically cut back on his Paris runners and has left nothing in Sunday’s €900,000 Grade Steeple-Chase De Paris.

The only Irish entry for France’s version of the Triumph Hurdle, the Prix Alain Du Breil, is Philip Fenton’s Karl Des Tourelles.

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Aidan O’Brien keeps the faith in City Of Troy’s Derby credentials (2024)
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