If the Derby market is to spark into life the blue touch-paper moment could come this afternoon, will more likely be on Thursday but did not arrive yesterday. Within minutes of Bullet Train winning the trial at Lingfield, the course that most closely resembles Epsom's idiosyncratic contours, the immediate action of successful trainer Henry Cecil was to dampen any spluttering squibs.
"Yes, he is getting better," he said of the colt, "but he's got to go on improving for us to even consider the Derby. I'm not counting Epsom out but he's not by any means a definite runner."
Bullet Train, one of the final crop of stallion legend Sadler's Wells, has apparently been a slow learner at home and yesterday's performance had some style, even if its substance could be questioned. Tom Queally, in the saddle, set a steady pace tracked by the Aidan O'Brien raider Captain James Cook and 6-4 favourite Desert Myth. His task was made easier under grim circumstances; Captain James Cook's right foreleg snapped as he descended the turn into the straight and the injury was fatal. Bullet Train was left clear and, with Desert Myth disappointing, had a relatively simple task to beat fully exposed Dubawi Phantom two and a quarter lengths. Queally liked what he felt under him. "I was impressed with the way he stretched and quickened," he said, "and he's only going to get better."
Bullet Train now has four weeks to prove himself worthy of a place in the Derby field and bookmakers ignored Cecil's warnings, introducing the colt into the market at around 10-1. Captain James Cook's stablemate St Nicholas Abbey remains at the head of the market despite being only sixth in the 2,000 Guineas and today at Leopardstown two more from Ballydoyle – Midas Touch and At First Sight – present their credentials.
The pair comprise half the field in Ireland's top Derby trial but the race that will properly shape the market is likely to be Thursday's Dante Stakes at York, the target of such as Epsom second favourite Workforce, Chabal, Coordinated Cut and Cape Blanco.
Bullet Train may have introduced himself as a possible for one Epsom Classic but his stablemate Timepiece has almost certainly removed herself from the reckoning for the other, the Oaks, with her second successive disappointing performance. The filly was odds-on for the Lingfield Trial but had no answer when Dyna Waltz came storming past to score by a length.
Stamina is the John Gosden-trained daughter of Dynaformer's long suit, but jockey Ryan Moore was under-whelmed by the victory. He said: "She tries hard but all she did was stay on past two tired horses." Timepiece has been replaced at the head of the Oaks market at a general 7-1 by Rumoush, a staying-on seventh in last week's unsatisfactory 1,000 Guineas.