Aidan O’Brien to conduct Bolshoi favorite ballet in Derby | The derby
Aidan O’Brien, whose team have become the dominant force this century in Derby, made the surprise announcement that he will only have one rider in the Epsom Classic on Saturday.
Ballydoyle’s coach is to rely on front-runner Bolshoi Ballet, while High Definition is set to take place in the Irish Derby at the Curragh later this month in a major change in pre-race plans. O’Brien’s decision allowed the Bolshoi Ballet to end the day as the money market leader.
The defection of second High Definition favorite will leave Frankie Dettori, who has twice won Britain’s most prestigious race and was widely expected to ride rider O’Brien, in search of a mount. The Italian runner’s high profile and popularity with punters normally ensures that his races are well supported ante-post and high definition was a 1-2 chance Wednesday morning.
After riding a winner at Haydock last Saturday, the jockey joked: “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what I’m riding on yet! But I’m waiting on the phone for now, so let’s hope Mr. O’Brien calls me.
At the start of the week, speculation was that O’Brien would have his normal high runner volume and he currently has five entries left in the contest. However, speaking on Wednesday afternoon at the Curragh, O’Brien said: “Nothing is written in stone until ten in the morning [final declarations], but it looks like the two horses are going to be separated.
“Looks like the Bolshoi Ballet is going to Epsom and looks like high definition is coming right here [to the Curragh]. The Bolshoi would be our only rider at Epsom – that’s what the guys think to give them both a chance in a Derby.
He added: “It means there is a little extra time for high definition and the two are each shooting for the first time in a derby.”
High Definition had spent the winter months as an ante-post favorite for the first classic after coming from the clouds to win the Beresford Stakes in September. However, his preparation this spring was not entirely straightforward, with unsatisfactory blood test results ruling him out of his scheduled return to the Lingfield Derby Trial.
Instead, High Definition returned five days later in the Dante Stakes in York – and while he wasn’t dishonored by finishing third on the Knavesmire, O’Brien revealed he was now on the point of being saved for the Curragh.
“We had the chance to participate in the High Definition in York and we think he is a very good horse. A little more time won’t hurt him. It was just to give them a chance until they met. The Curragh Derby is a very important race, just like the Epsom Derby.
“I am very happy with the two horses. If we couldn’t run in high definition then there was no decision to make as if he wasn’t racing in York so he definitely wouldn’t go to Epsom.
During a race at the Curragh on Wednesday evening, he outlined his plans for the other horses still registered at Epsom: “Saint Mark’s Basilica and Van Gogh are going to France. [for the French Derby, on Sunday]. Kyprios goes to Ascot for the Queen’s vase and Sir Lamorak could go for King Edward [also at Royal Ascot]. The Mediterranean is declared for the Nijinsky Stakes in Leopardstown on Thursday. “