Derby still in O'Brien plans for Navigator

The swifts made it back for Guineas weekend, as they tend to, and down below Nature seemed to be observing the same, immutable cycles in the horses, too. Once again, a colt arrived here from Co Tipperary as the first bloom of an approaching summer. And, once again, Godolphin's desert migrants seemed to return in a state of hopeless disorientation.

It is all driven by breeding, of course, and as such a fresh course was yesterday suggested for Henrythenavigator, the colt who ended New Approach's unbeaten record in an epic race for the Stan James 2,000 Guineas on Saturday. The theory that Henrythenavigator has the genes of a pure miler did not survive a night of reflection at Ballydoyle, and Aidan O'Brien and his patrons – notably John Magnier, the boss of Coolmore Stud – are now pondering the possibility of trying him over a mile and a half in the Vodafone Derby.

"I may have been a bit too cut and dried yesterday about Henrythenavigator being a miler," the trainer said. "The Kingmambos do stay further and he's out of a Sadler's Wells mare who stayed a mile and a half, and his sister [Queen Cleopatra] got at least 10 furlongs.

"We've had a think about it, talked with the boss, and the Derby is definitely in our thoughts now. It's the race that everyone wants to win, the most important race for three-year-olds. The fortunes of Coolmore have been built on the Derby.

"Henrythenavigator has many of the qualities you need at Epsom. You have to have a horse that has speed, can travel and can quicken. And he has that tactical pace that means he can stay balanced."

O'Brien emphasised that nothing had been decided, not least whether to persevere towards a rematch with New Approach in the Boylesports Irish 2,000 Guineas on 24 May. But there would surely be concern over the prospect of a hard race over a mile, just a fortnight before Epsom.

Like each of the four previous Guineas winners trained by O'Brien, Henrythenavigator was making his reappearance. As usual, his stable had only crept into bud during April. Time after time, however, the most brilliant horseman of his generation dependably coaxes his horses into flower just at the right time.

O'Brien might reproach himself for Henrythenavigator's failure to build on his first two juvenile races. After a defeat, in heavy ground at the Curragh last August he was turned out just 13 days later to bang heads with New Approach.

If nothing else, however, this tough grounding ensured that he needed only to dovetail fitness with maturity to beat that same colt on Saturday. Lesser trainers always tell you how they need to give horses with Classic pedigrees time to come to hand. O'Brien can do that, too, if he needs to – Footstepsinthesand, the 2005 winner, did not make his debut until the previous October. But how many rival trainers have noticed that his two most recent winners began their careers 364 days before the race? George Washington ran in a maiden on the Sunday here – he was beaten, as it happens, but at least he was up and running – while Henrythenavigator won by seven lengths at Gowran Park a year ago yesterday. The fact is that if they don't bite as puppies, they won't bite as dogs.

The process was not straightforward last year. "For some reason the two-year-olds didn't progress as normal," O'Brien reflected. "Instead of going forwards, they were standing still. We couldn't find anything, so we pulled back on them, because we didn't want to damage them for this year. After that we ran out of time with most of them, this horse included. And we were worried he might need it here, because the horses have all been coming forward for a run."

Make no mistake, this was a huge result for Ballydoyle. Last year Magnier and his partners watched in bemusement as Sheikh Mohammed, whose cavalries were being routinely outperformed in the Classics, embarked on an unprecedented binge of spending to revive his stagnant empire. If any horse ran fast enough, anywhere in the world, it seemed as though its owners could name their price.

Being determined not to support Coolmore stallions at the yearling sales, the Sheikh instead tapped into the next generation: sons of Galileo in New Approach and Teofilo, and Montjeu's Derby winner, Authorized. Perhaps he will now have to wait to buy Henrythenavigator's sons.

For Godolphin, it was another depressing Classic weekend, the well backed Ibn Khaldun trailing in 10th. The Sheikh can comfort himself that New Approach consolidated his reputation, even in defeat. Ridden aggressively, he had most of them cooked going into the Dip, and rallied ardently once headed. The pair pulled four lengths clear, and his trainer – O'Brien's mentor, Jim Bolger – consoled himself that the 200th running of the race would go down "as one of the very best".

Bolger had astonished many people by deciding not to aim New Approach at Epsom. It is a comfort to learn that his protégé is not so indifferent.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?