The sniper's approach in the build-up to the Derby can be, it seems, as effective as shouldering a scattergun. Snow Sky is his owner Khaled Abdullah's sole entry for the premier Classic, and duly won his trial at Lingfield, rather impressively. The Coolmore partners have 29 of the 421 colts who still hold the Epsom engagement, including the warm favourite, Australia. And though the Irish camp's challenge came to little in the eliminator at the Surrey track yesterday, they did win two at Chester during the week, and their search for backup to the 2,000 Guineas third continues at Leopardstown this afternoon.
Snow Sky, a 50-1 shot for the Derby at the start of play yesterday, is now as short at 16-1. He was always galloping easily under Jim Crowley, remained balanced on the Epsom-like downhill run to the straight, was in clear command from more than a furlong out and had two lengths to spare over Hartnell at the line, thoroughly appreciating the step up from 10 furlongs to nearly a mile and a half.
"We knew he had progressed since Newbury," said his trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, whose most recent (of five) Derby wins came four years ago with another Abdullah colourbearer, Workforce, "and we knew the extra distance would suit him. He couldn't have done this more nicely.
"It's very encouraging so far, but we'll sit tight just yet, and I wouldn't be telling punters to back him for the Derby today."
At Leopardstown this afternoon Coolmore's Geoffrey Chaucer – 16-1 for the Derby – will test his mettle against seven rivals, led by Fascinating Rock, before the trials circuit moves on to the Dante Stakes, and the next appearance of the Epsom second favourite, True Story, at York on Thursday.