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2017 Epsom Derby news - Churchill likely to miss Epsom and bid for second 2000 Guineas crown at the Curragh

Jonathan Vine in Latest News 19 May 2017
Churchill (right) winning the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month.

Speaking to the press at York this week, Aidan O'Brien intimated that former ante-post favourite for the Derby, Churchill is likely to miss an outing at Epsom to try and complete a 2,000 Guineas double at the Curragh next weekend.

O'Brien was delighted when his young charge stormed clear of his pursuers at Newmarket, holding off valiant efforts from Barney Roy and Al Wukair to land the 2,000 Guineas crown. The 2,000 Guineas is the first leg of the fabled "Triple Crown", with the Epsom Derby and the St Leger featuring as the final two legs of this historic treble. Following his Newmarket triumph, Churchill had cemented his place at the head of the ante-post betting for the Derby, but it seems his trainer has alternative plans for his star colt.

"There is a good chance Churchill will run in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas, though nothing is set in stone," O'Brien told the Irish Independent on Thursday afternoon, after watching Exemplar finish near the rear of the field in the Dante Stakes at York.

Although his victory in the 2,000 Guineas was impressive, the second, third and fourth-placed horses were all eating up the ground behind Churchill as the champion passed the post, suggesting a step up in trip in the Derby may not be suitable at the moment. Aidan O'Brien has trained the winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas in six of the past ten years and that could be the perfect race for Churchill before going into a busy summer campaign, where he holds entry into the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Churchill skipping a trip to Epsom will leave Cliffs Of Moher free to lead the Ballydoyle assault on the 2017 Derby. Ryan Moore was made to work hard in the three-year-old's saddle last week at Chester, but the pair did enough to land the prestigious Dee Stakes title by just over a length. With Churchill seemingly out of the Derby picture, Cliffs Of Moher has moved to the head of the Derby betting and can be found at a best price of 5/1 with Coral.

Cliffs Of Moher will be joined in the Epsom stalls by several other Ballydoyle stablemates. Venice Beach headed an Aidan O'Brien 1-2-3 in the Chester Vase and he currently sits closest to his compatriot in the betting, with Ladbrokes quoting a price of 16/1 on the Chester Vase champion to win the Derby. Douglas MacArthur followed his runner-up finish in the Ballysax Stakes with a half-length victory over stablemate, Yucatan in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown. Both Douglas MacArthur and Yucatan are listed at 20/1 with bet365 to win the Derby, so despite Churchill's propable Epsom absence, Aidan O'Brien will still be playing a mighty hand when he bids for Derby glory in two weeks' time.


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2017 Epsom Derby news - Churchill likely to miss Epsom and bid for second 2000 Guineas crown at the Curragh

Speaking to the press at York this week, Aidan O'Brien intimated that former ante-post favourite for the Derby, Churchill is likely to miss an outing at Epsom to try and complete a 2000 Guineas double at the Curragh next weekend.

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