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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

Implementation Engineer

£150 - £200 per day: Orgtel: Implementation Engineer Hampshire / London (Gre...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Pharmacuetical

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Real Staffing, one of the UK'...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform