City of Troy on Road to Redemption in Epsom Derby

If City of Troy  recaptures his 2-year-old brilliance in the June 1 Epsom Derby (G1) it will be an almost exact replica of stablemate Auguste Rodin  12 months ago.

After flopping in the 2023 Two Thousand Guineas (G1) as a short-priced favorite, Auguste Rodin was heavily backed to recoup losses ahead of the premier classic and redeemed his reputation with a thrilling half-length victory over King of Steel .

City of Troy was equally abysmal when the 4-6 favorite for the Guineas at Newmarket, but his price contracted rapidly a fortnight ago for Epsom and he looks likely to head the market.

His trainer Aidan O’Brien, who is seeking an incredible 10th Derby win, retains faith in the colt he still believes could be a superstar.

“Obviously, things didn’t go to plan at Newmarket with City of Troy,” he said. “When he charged the gates his heart rate would have gone into the clouds and he didn’t get time to reset.

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“The gates opened and he was in full flow straight away. He was caught right in the middle of the pace and wasn’t getting out of there, while it was also his first run of the year.

“He’s always had loads of class and stamina. The Guineas was always going to be the first race of his program and we didn’t think we should change that because of what happened. Everything has gone well since Newmarket and we’ve been very happy with him.”

O’Brien also trains Euphoric  and the much-fancied Los Angeles, unbeaten in three starts and the subject of heavy market support in recent days.

Fanshawe chasing career highlight with classy Ambiente Friendly

James Fanshawe has won two Champion Hurdles with Royal Gait and Hors La Loi III and numerous group 1 races with the likes of Environment Friend, Soviet Song, and The Tin Man  during a long and illustrious training career, but a Derby victory with Ambiente Friendly  would be his crowning glory.

Picked out at the sales by Freddy Tylicki, former stable jockey to Fanshawe, Ambiente Friendly stamped himself a leading contender for the world’s most famous flat race when slamming Illinois  by 4 1/2 lengths in the Lingfield Derby Trial Stakes.

The way in which he handled the tricky descent into the straight, which bears a marked similarity to the drop towards Tattenham Corner, suggests Fanshawe’s colt will have no problems with the track, and he has reportedly done well since.

Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

Ambiente Friendly wins the Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield Racecourse

A big, immature 2-year-old, Ambiente Friendly looks a rapid improver now he has been given the opportunity to tackle middle distances, and Fanshawe couldn’t be happier with him.

“The colt seems in good form,” he said. “Hopefully, there will be no more rain. The Derby is the most important race we’ve ever had a runner in. It’s a privilege to be involved.”

Ancient Wisdom ‘has definitely come forward since the Dante’

Charlie Appleby and Godolphin have experienced a rollercoaster of highs and lows already this season.

Notable Speech ‘s Two Thousand Guineas success got the campaign off to a flying start and there was a group 1 Sha Tin triumph for Rebel’s Romance  May 26.

However, sandwiched between those wins were the fatal injury suffered by Hidden Law after looking a potential Derby winner in the Chester Vase Stakes (G3) and rampant Sandown scorer Arabian Crown  being ruled out of the premier classic after a setback.

It is testament to the strength of the Godolphin team’s 3-year-olds that a Derby victory for Ancient Wisdom  would surprise nobody.

The son of Dubawi  has reportedly thrived since his York defeat by Economics , and Appleby said: “He has definitely come forward since the Dante and we know that stepping up to a mile and a half is going to suit, while we are hoping that ground conditions will be on our side as well.

“There hasn’t been a Derby winner from stall 11, but there have been a few from either side, so I think we are in the right area. I feel we have the right horse to be competitive on the day.”

Dancing Gemini ‘nice and fresh’ for Classic bid

Roger Teal couldn’t be happier with Dancing Gemini  as the Lambourn trainer prepares for the biggest day of his career.

Teal is no stranger to group 1 success, having landed the July Cup (G1) and King’s Stand Stakes (G1) with Oxted , but going into the Derby with a live contender is a new experience for him.

Dancing Gemini, fifth behind Ancient Wisdom in the Futurity Stakes at Doncaster last October, proved he had trained on particularly well when finishing second to Metropolitan  in the French Two Thousand Guineas (G1) at Longchamp.

Teal said: “He handled the delay before the French Guineas brilliantly and he switched off beautifully in the race before finishing off very strong.

“You’d like to think he’d have come on for the run because we were using that as a bit of a prep race. We haven’t done too much with him at home because it was only three weeks ago.”

Teal added: “He went to Epsom and had a little feel of the track, so he’s had another day’s outing. We’ve done very little with him work-wise, we’ve just kept him nice and fresh. My worry is the rain that’s about. I’m very confident he should see the mile-and-a-half out. I don’t know whether we’ll get softish conditions and the good thing is Epsom does dry out very well. You don’t know what’s coming.”

Ground and weather latest

Epsom’s ground will remain good to soft overnight but conditions are likely to dry ahead of Saturday’s Derby. 

The two-day meeting began with showers but sunshine is expected to arrive at the track on Saturday morning, which clerk of the course Andrew Cooper believes will quicken conditions ahead of the feature Classic.

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