Bolshoi Ballet leapt to the head of the Cazoo Derby ante-post market with an impressive trial victory at Leopardstown.
Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt was far too good for his rivals in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes – a race which has been springboard to a succession of the Ballydoyle trainer’s champions over the years.
Ryan Moore tracked big outsider Wexford Soil in the early stages of the Group Three, before taking over with three furlongs to run and quickly scooting clear with a quarter of a mile to run.
The outcome was instantly beyond doubt, and the even-money favourite crossed the line six lengths clear of his vain pursuers, led by stablemate Lough Derg.
Mac Swiney failed to boost his Derby prospects by managing only a near seven-length fourth.
Bolshoi Ballet, who was following up his course-and-distance victory in the Ballysax Stakes last month, was quickly promoted to outright favouritism for next month’s Derby – at as short as 7-4 with Coral.
He had previously shared the top of the market at around 5-1 with unbeaten stablemate High Definition, who had to miss his intended prep run in Lingfield’s Derby Trial on Saturday because of a poor blood test but may yet be in action in the Dante Stakes at York this week.
Aidan O’Brien’s Joan Of Arc dominated the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial.
The 11-4 favourite, ridden by Ryan Moore, was in front after a furlong and stayed there without ever having to come under strong pressure.
Joan Of Arc was restating her case for a clutch of high-profile entries in top races over the coming months, having failed to build on her Curragh maiden victory when only sixth in a similar trial over seven furlongs here last month.
Up to a mile in this Group Three, the daughter of Galileo – a full-sister to Classic winners Gleneagles and Marvellous – always appeared in control and had a length and three-quarters in hand at the line.
Her nearest pursuer was 50-1 shot Flirting Bridge, with the same distance back to another outsider Thinking Of You (40-1) in third.
Bookmakers reacted by halving Joan Of Arc’s odds for both Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes (into 8-1) and the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom (into 10-1) next month.
O’Brien said: “The last day was a bit of a non-event for her, but she came out of it lovely.
“The plan was to come back here, and then maybe go to the Irish Guineas.
“Ryan said she might stay a bit further so we’re very happy with that. She’s a very relaxed filly.”
Maker Of Kings returned to winning form in first-time blinkers with an authoritative display in the Amethyst Stakes.
Ger Lyons’ four-year-old was runner-up in the Irish Lincolnshire on his first start this season and was then a beaten odds-on favourite when he went down by a short head at Tipperary last month.
But he had no trouble with this rise in class to Group Three level, as the 7-1 winner under Colin Keane.
Maker Of Kings was soon up with the pace set by Raise You, then took over in the final two furlongs to assert by a length and a quarter – with Erzindjan staying on to get closest to him, a neck in front of 7-4 favourite Ace Aussie.
Lyons’ assistant and brother Shane said: “He’s a grand horse who ran well in the Lincoln. Colin said we should put headgear on, and it’s worked.
“He’s a fun horse for his owners. He loved the ground and will get further.
“We’ll probably put the headgear on and off. He just gets a bit lonely – and with the headwind today, it helped.”
Eaglefield gave trainer Jim Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning a winning start on the card as he got off the mark at the second attempt in the opening John R Fitzpatrick Agricultural Contractor Maiden.
The Gleneagles gelding was second on his Gowran debut over this same trip of seven furlongs just four days ago.
He proved he was ready to go again, though, sitting just behind Jeroboam and clear of the rest before collaring the long-time leader in the final furlong and then just having enough left to hold on from closers Baldomero and Emilie Gray by a neck and a head.
The line came just in time for the 13-8 favourite, for whom there do not appear to be any big plans just yet.
Bolger’s daughter Una Manning said: “You’d be happy with him – Kevin said they went a right gallop the whole way, and he battled well.
“I’m told we’ll see how the handicapper treats him and go from there.”
Later in the final two races, the imposing Sir William Bruce and The Mediterranean completed a four-timer for Aidan O’Brien and Moore.
The Ballydoyle trainer and jockey were responsible for a Group Three double as Bolshoi Ballet and Joan Of Arc posted resounding victories to signpost their respective big-race ambitions this season.
Then in the Cabinteely Handicap, Sir William Bruce got the better of his fellow three-year-olds too as he broke his duck on his handicap debut – and fourth career start.
Moore always had the 11-2 shot within striking distance before taking charge two furlongs out and staying on to hold on by a diminishing half length from Snowy Owl.
O’Brien said: “He’d a better run than it looked in Naas (beaten favourite in a maiden last month), because he had a very bad draw and hit a number of ridges down the back.
“He’s a grand horse, and anything from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half would suit him. Ideally he’d prefer a more strongly-run race, but Ryan gave him a good ride and had him in a good position.
“We might go back for another handicap and give him time to progress.”
The Mediterranean had to battle hard to see off Ruling for victory in the closing Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Memorial Maiden by a length and a quarter as the 100-30 joint-favourite.
O’Brien said: “He’s a grand horse and we thought he’d come on plenty for it. We weren’t sure about the mile and a half as he was showing a bit of class at home, but he answered the question that he gets it.
“It was a good solid-run race so he would have learned a lot. There was no hiding place.”
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