Orchestra gave Aidan O'Brien his fifth Chester Vase win, but created little noise in the Derby market as a result. Cruising one moment, scrambling for the line the next, it was an incomplete performance.
Turning for home, with Ryan Moore sitting motionless as the colt eased to the front, it seemed as though we had yet another serious Ballydoyle Derby contender, 12 months after Ruler Of The World had won the same race for the same connections en route to Epsom glory.
But that perception changed radically in the last furlong as Romsdal chased him down and failed by just a nose to get up. The bookies hardly knew what to make of it, some diving for cover and clipping Orchestra to 16-1; others unmoved at 33-1.
Moore was complimentary, saying: "That was his first run of the year and the ground was a bit slow for him. I was trying to be kind at the finish, but I was pleased with him. He's a really nice horse."
Fair points, but the form looks pretty ordinary. Romsdal had only a win on Kempton's Polytrack to boast about and his trainer, John Gosden, admitted pre-race that a crack at such a prestigious trial was a bit of a gamble.
Moore also noted that Ruler Of The World "improved a bundle" between May and June last year. There may be loads more to come from Orchestra, too, but on the evidence we have so far, O'Brien's big two for Epsom are Australia, the hot favourite, and Geoffrey Chaucer, who has his final prep at Leopardstown on Sunday in a trial won in the past by subsequent Derby winners Sinndar, Galileo and High Chaparral.
Then all eyes will be on York next Thursday when True Story, Western Hymn and possibly Kingston Hill – three of Australia's leading rivals – will turn out to stake their final Classic claims in the Dante Stakes. Now that will be some trial.
The British Horseracing Authority has revealed it is to hold an enquiry into the Grand National false start when it says 39 jockeys attempted to line up before the start time, resulting in the assistant starter being knocked to the ground.
They have, however, decided against disciplinary action in respect of the riders' refusal to conclude the stewards' enquiry on the day.
Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for BHA, said its decision reflected "the scale of the challenge in conducting an enquiry in such circumstances".
He added: "We would like to put in place a protocol, to be developed in conjunction with the jockeys, for managing such situations where a large numbers of riders are involved."
But Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys' Association, expressed disappointment at the BHA announcement and said the riders have "strong grounds to contest the charges."
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