Horse Power: City Of Troy to bounce back and win the Betfred Derby at Epsom

Ryan Moore and City Of Troy winning the Native Trail's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse on Saturday, October 14 2023
-Credit: (Image: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)


CITY Of TROY can bounce back to win his first Classic in the Betfred Derby (No Geldings) (4.30pm) at Epsom on Saturday afternoon.

Aidan O’Brien’s star was s huge disappointment when bombing out when sent off the warm favourite in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month. But in shades of stable-mate Auguste Rodin 12 months ago the son of Justify can show that was merely a blip and resume winning ways stepped up to 1m4f for the first time to land Flat racing’s blue riband and give his trainer a record-extending perfect 10th victory in the Colts’ Classic.

After an unbeaten juvenile campaign the son of the 13th American Triple Crown winner Justify was being talked of as being the stable’s ‘Frankel’ and hopes of the Holy Grail for his Coolmore owners of winning British Triple Crown were high. The regally-bred City Of Troy had been spectacular in his three career starts as a juvenile last year. A maiden win at the Curragh in July was followed just two weeks later by an astonishing victory in the seven-furlong Group Two Superlative Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting. He scored impressively by six-and-a-half lengths under Ryan Moore, beating beating subsequent Craven Stakes hero and Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Haatem comfortably. He made it three from three with another superb success in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

But unlike Frankel, City Of Troy failed to follow up in the Colts’ Classic on his seasonal return, getting worked up in the stalls beforehand and he trailed in ninth of the 11 runners. He is now back to being one of the favourites for the Derby following pleasing reports by O’Brien.

And if any trainer can get him back to his best it is O’Brien, who did just that when the well-fancied Auguste Rodin bounced back from Guineas disappointment to win the Derby 12 months ago. The step up to middle distances should help City Of Troy and it is hard to believe that last season’s spectacular efforts were just a flash in the pan. He is surely better than his run in the Guineas and the Ballydoyle maestro can again work his magic and get his potential stable star back on track.

Unbeaten stable-mate Los Angeles, who won the Derby Trial at Leopardstown on his seasonal return, has been backed into almost joint favouritism with City Of Troy. He rates the biggest danger to his Ballydoyle stable-mate, while James Fanshawe’s Lingfield Derby Trial hero Ambiente Friendly and Ralph Beckett’s Macduff are others in with a chance of running well.

James Tate's ROYAL DRESS can follow up her win over a mile at Goodwood on her seasonal return at the start of this month with another in the Group Three Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By My Pension Expert) (2pm). A winner at Haydock Park over seven furlongs last July in soft conditions, the four-year-old daughter of Night Of Thunder scored by a short head on her first try at a mile in a Listed event. She looks to be improving and stepped up slightly in distance and into Group Three company Royal Dress can go in again.

Outsider SEAN may be able to land a shock victory in the Group Three Betfred Diomed Stakes (2.35pm). Jamie Osborne’s seven-year-old remains unexposed in this country having been trained in Germany for much of his career. He has had four starts for Osborne all in Dubai earlier this year. On his short-head second in a Group Three over 1m2f and a close-up third over 1m1f in a Group Two at Meydan, he can at least hit the frame and may surprise chiefly last year’s winner Regal Reality.

James Horton’s GRANDLAD can bring up a hat-trick of wins in the Betfred 3Y0 ‘Dash’ Handicap (3.10pm). The three-year-old made all to win a Novice Stakes event at Wolverhampton to break his duck on his third start in April. He backed that victory up with another on Turf at Goodwood last week. He looks to be progressing well and he may be able to break well and hold on for a third win in a row.

Liverpool FC fan and trainer Karl Burke has his stable in good form at present and LOOKING FOR LYNDA may give him another win in the Aston Martin ‘Dash’ Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (3.45pm). The four-year-old gelding ran well to be second to the reopposing Night On Earth over course and distance in April. And he was also runner-up to another of his Dash rivals, top weight Clarendon House, at York last time. On better terms with both those rivals, Looking For Lynda may be able to turn the form around and triumph.

The Ben Brookhouse-trained REDHOT WHISPER can go one better than when second at Nottingham a couple of weeks ago with victory in the opener, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Lester Piggott Handicap (1.25pm).

KOTARI can bring up a four-timer with another victory in the Long Shot Northern Dancer Handicap (5.15pm). The Gary and Josh Moore-trained five-year-old gelded son of Nathaniel is in the form of his life having returned to the Flat following an overall disappointing campaign over hurdles. Kotari has won at Windsor, Salisbury and impressively at Ascot when stepped up to 1m4f for the first time. He still remains open to improvement and now over this 1m4f again, Kotari can make it four in a row.

Richard Fahey’s STRIKE RED can bounce back to form in the finale, the JRA Tokyo Trophy Handicap (5.50pm). The six-year-old won three times last season, culminating in a fine victory in the Paddy Power Scurry Handicap at the Curragh in July. He was down the field on his return to action at Newcastle but having blown the cobwebs off, he can score despite still being a bit high in the handicap.

At Musselburgh the Burke-trained PRINCESS ALEX can bring up a hat-trick of wins in the Listed Edinburgh Gin Queen Of Scots Fillies’ Stakes (3.25pm), following recent successes at Haydock and Beverley.

Hugo Palmer’s HE'S A GENTLEMAN ran decent races when second at Wolverhampton in February and at Chester's May Festival. Despite a disappointing effort at Newmarket two weeks ago, he may be able to grab victory in the Edinburgh Gin Classic Handicap (2.15pm).

Others who can win at the Scottish track are Richard Fahey’s UP THE CLARETS in the Edinburgh Gin Raspberry Selling Stakes (2.50pm); the Karl Burke-trained CLASSY BOY in the Edinburgh Cup Handicap (4pm); and course and distance scorer CANARIA PRINCE – from the Tim Easterby stable in the opener, the Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb And Ginger Handicap (1.40pm).

Wright Ones

EPSOM (Day Two)

1.25pm Redhot Whisper
2pm Royal Dress
2.35pm Sean
3.10pm Grandlad
3.45pm Looking For Lynda
4.30pm 1 CITY OF TROY (NAP) 2 Los Angeles 3 Ambiente Friendly
5.15pm Kotari
5.50pm Strike Red

MUSSELBURGH

1.40pm Canaria Prince
2.15pm He’s A Gentleman
2.50pm Up The Clarets
3.25pm Princess Alex
4pm Classy Boy
4.45pm Batal Zabeel
5.20pm Eva Rosie

HEXHAM

4.15pm Paddy The Horse
4.55pm Backbyjet
5.30pm Elleon
6.05pm Kaaress
6.35pm Get A Superstar
7.07pm Tartan Cookie

WORCESTER

12.40pm Royal Sam
1.10pm Optimistic Joe
1.45pm Shadowfax Of Rohan
2.20pm Highlands Legacy
2.55pm Spitalfield
3.30pm River Gold
4.05pm Soir De Gala

DONCASTER

4.38pm Churchella
5.08pm Alice Fairfax
5.40pm King’s Gamble
6.15pm Sam Hawkens
6.50pm Silver Samurai
7.20pm Burning Cash
7.50pm Annie Law
8.20pm Danzart

LINGFIELD

5.35pm Uzincso
6.10pm Hillbridge
6.45pm Robusto
7.15pm Roselily
7.45pm Ziggy’s Phoenix
8.15pm Musical Mystery
8.45pm Nogo’s Dream

SUNDAY’S NAP: Destinado (Hamilton 6.40pm)