Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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AIDAN O’Brien has won the Derby in six of the past nine years and bids to win the premier Classic for a record ninth time with hot-favourite Bolshoi Ballet.
Bolshoi Ballet heads a field of 12 runners for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on Saturday where he is O’Brien’s sole representative after stablemates High Definition, Sir Lamorak, Van Gogh, Kyprios and The Mediterranean were not declared.
Bolshoi Ballet was an impressive winner of a brace of Group 3’s this season – the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial – and this is the first time in 17 years that O’Brien is represented by just one runner in Epsom’s blue riband event.
Bolshoi Ballet is best-priced at 5-4 and was yesterday allotted stall nine, alongside the Jim Bolger-trained Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney (7-1) in stall eight. Of the other leading candidates, Ed Dunlop’s John Leeper (13-2) is in stall 12 and the William Haggas-trained Mohaafeth (7-1) in stall four.
Speaking on Wednesday from the Curragh, O’Brien said: “It looks like Bolshoi Ballet will run at Epsom and High Definition will wait for the Curragh [Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on June 26].
“It looks like Bolshoi Ballet is going to Epsom and it looks like High Definition is coming straight here [Curragh],” he continued. “Bolshoi would be our only runner at Epsom – that’s what the lads are thinking to give the two of them a chance at a Derby.
“St Mark’s Basilica and Van Gogh are going to France [Prix du Jockey Club, on Sunday]. Kyprios is going to Ascot for the Queen’s Vase and Sir Lamorak might go for the King Edward.
“We were lucky to get the run into High Definition at York and we think he’s a very good horse. A little more time won’t do him any harm.
“It was just to give the two of them a chance until they have to meet. The Curragh Derby is a very important race, as the Epsom Derby is also.
“I’m very happy with both horses. If we didn’t get the run into High Definition then there was no decision to make as if he didn’t run in York then he definitely wouldn’t go to Epsom.”
O’Brien is well-represented in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom today (Friday) where his five runners are headed by 11-4 favourite Santa Barbara.
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