Aidan O'Brien looks to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to top class three-year-old colts, with Dee Stakes winner Magician the latest stable runner to advertise his claims for Epsom Derby honours.
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Magician, yet another imposing son of Galileo to be housed at Ballydoyle, was sent off the 13/8 favourite for this 1m2f Group 3 contest and his backers had few anxious moments, with Ryan Moore driving him home for a four-length success over his main market rival and recent Newbury scorer Contributer, whose presence gives the form a solid look.
Bookmakers reacted by roughly halving his odds for the Investec Derby on June 1, with bet365 the most impressed in cutting him into 14/1 (from 33s), although there is still plenty of 20/1 around. However, a quick glance at the betting suggests he's a long way from being the stable's No.1 hope for Epsom, with three stablemates ahead of him, including Thursday's runaway Chester Vase winner Ruler Of The World. He was available at 33/1 earlier in the week and is now as short as 6/1 in a place, although that price may be an overreaction considering he beat nothing of note on the Roodeye.
Still, this half-brother to the top class Duke Of Marmalade is hugely exciting and it will be interesting to see how his two better fancied stablemates get on in their respective trials, with Battle Of Marengo set to run in Sunday's Derrinstown at Leopardstown, and Mars a possible for York's Dante Stakes in midweek. The latter horse ran with plenty of credit when sixth in the 2000 Guineas and looks sure to improve when stepped up to middle distances, but the suspicion is that Battle Of Marengo, who has won his last four starts, is held in even higher regard at home.
Of course, they will all have to be brilliant to see off Dawn Approach,
who arguably ran the best Derby trial of all when running out an emphatic winner of the 2000 Guineas. There are some doubts about him getting the mile and a half at Epsom but his relaxed attitude is likely to prove a huge advantage on the first Saturday of June, and he might not have to properly stay to emulate his sire New Approach, who won the 2008 renewal. If there any chinks in his armour, the O'Brien colts will be waiting and a certain Sir Michael Stoute-trained Telescope may well have a say in matters too.
All will be revealed in the coming weeks, and it could well turn out to be a Classic in every sense of the word!
Latest Epsom Derby betting (Paddy Power
): 7/4 Dawn Approach, 5/1 Battle Of Marengo, Telescope, 6/1 Ruler Of The World, 8/1 Mars, 14/1 Magician, Ocovango, 16/1 bar. Each-way 1/4 odds, 1.2.3.