By Simon Jackson at Epsom.
Australia is 4-1 joint-favourite with Treve for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Betfred after his impressive win in the Investec Derby on a gloriously sunny day at Epsom Downs.
Australia’s victory over Kingston Hill was a record third successive win in the race for trainer Aidan O’Brien, the success all the more notable for the five-time Derby winning trainer as the horse was ridden by his son Joseph.
The victory was popular with punters, who sent off the son of Derby winner Galileo and Oaks winner Ouija Board the 11-8 favourite.
The winner raced in midfield for the bulk of the journey before challenging the leaders and taking it up at the furlong. The 15-2 second favourite Kingston Hill fought well to the line but ultimately failed to peg back the leader who prevailed by a length and quarter. The 20-1 shot Romsdal was three and a quarter lengths back in third place.
“It’s special to train three successive Derby winners, but we are very lucky to have such well-bred horses to handle – that’s the reality of it. With the bloodlines we have we are lucky,” Aidan O’Brien said.
“When the lads [owners] brought this horse from the sales we thought he was very good and he had the pedigree to go with it. “He’s a very special horse with class and speed. There’s a lot of stamina in his pedigree, but everyone saw the speed today. We couldn’t be sure he would get a mile and a half because he has shown himself to be so speedy, but Joseph was going to ride him safe and confidently and that’s what he did.”
“This horse has kept standing up to the mark and we’ve never been disappointed – it’s great to be here. “A long time ago we thought he was very special – we wanted to be here with him, but you can never be sure because there are so many variables. Things can go wrong, so big credit to everyone at home.”
Winning jockey Joseph O’Brien added: “I got there a bit sooner than I wanted, I’d have liked to have delayed my chances a bit further but he was going so well. He’s a very well-balanced horse and there was plenty of pace. I got a little bump going down the hill. Kingston Hill was idling a bit in front and I always thought I’d get there.
“As a two-year-old he was quite babyish in his races and raced quite lazily but this year he has been a push-button ride.”
Australia’s immediate target is likely to be the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on June 28, where he could once again clash with runner-up Kingston Hill, whose trainer Roger Varian is looking to the future.
“I’m very proud of the horse,” Varian said. “He did nothing wrong. It was an impressive run that was full of promise. He’s back to his two-year-old form and we hope he comes out of this well then we have a lot to look forward to.
“The winner is very good and the Guineas form has stood up. I knew how tough my horse is and I was very confident he’d get the trip so I’m hoarse from cheering him. I knew he’d go down fighting. We’ll see what paths we both go down now and they could meet again.”
Meanwhile John Gosden, trainer of third-placed Romsdal, is eyeing the St Leger at Doncaster in September.
“He has run a great race. I couldn’t be happier with him. He is a hugely talented horse and was doing his best work at the end. It was bold to supplement him for the race but we’ve won some money. He stayed on well and he has real stamina. He’s likely to go to the Ladbrokes St. Leger.”
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