Team O'Brien moves up a gear as Midas Touch cruises in Derby trial

Even in a year that some are already condemning as ordinary, the legion of blue-blooded Derby contenders from Ballydoyle still command a fascination denied to their more basely-housed brothers. Here yesterday the latest to emerge this season from the Co Tipperary fastness, Midas Touch, notched a first among his fellows in that he actually won an Epsom trial.

And not just any trial; the Derrinstown is Ireland's premier such contest and the one favoured by Aidan O'Brien for his best prospect. In the past he has collected it with his two subsequent Epsom winners, Galileo and High Chaparral, and two since in the frame, Dylan Thomas and Fame And Glory.

By that reckoning Midas Touch should be judged high in his stable's pecking order and perhaps, with his professional defeat of three rivals which included his pacemaker At First Sight, he has now thrust himself up the ranks.

But he may have ideas slightly above his station as he had originally been earmarked for a lower-grade prep at Chester and was drafted in for yesterday's task only after an injury to Mikhail Glinka. Moreover, in shortening him to 14-1, bookmakers still rate three of his stablemates ahead of him in the Derby market: the 3-1 favourite St Nicholas Abbey and a pair yet to appear this term, Cape Blanco and Jan Vermeer.

Still, Midas Touch, a son of Galileo, could not have stepped up to the plate more stylishly than he did. Held adrift in fourth place by Johnny Murtagh until the straight, he wound up his considerable stride thereafter and top gear was engaged by the time he caught the other 2-1 co-favourite, Address Unknown, inside the furlong mark.

He had two lengths to spare at the line. The winning time was one second faster than Fame And Glory's last year, though the ground then was much softer than yesterday's good to firm.

"I've got to be pleased with that," said O'Brien, winning his eighth edition of the 10-furlong Group Two contest. "The pacemaker did his job and it was a good, solidly run race. Johnny just let him find himself and his stride, and he found plenty for him."

O'Brien accepts that his bigger guns have been firing peas rather than shells so far this year, but the curve of the graph is turning upward. "The horses we ran at Chester had excuses," he said. "Rocket Man came home very sore behind and Encompassing probably didn't stay. And at Lingfield on Saturday Johnny said Captain James Cook [who suffered a fatal injury] would have been in the first two.

"With the bad winter we had we're further behind than usual but the horses are coming forward all the time," he added, "and this fellow will as well. The fact that he won is extra encouraging."

O'Brien may also take heart from the views of Address Unknown's rider, Pat Smullen. "That rode like a good trial," he said. "The pace was good and I came to win my race [but] the winner went by us like a very good horse."

St Nicholas Abbey will resume fast work again this week on his road to the Investec-sponsored Classic after his sixth place in the 2,000 Guineas. Cape Blanco, unbeaten in three last year, has Thursday's Dante Stakes at York as his target; a minor nick in a heel at exercise yesterday is not thought to compromise his chance of participation.

But Jan Vermeer, who had Midas Touch in fourth when he won a French Group One at Saint-Cloud in November and is as short as 8-1 in the Derby lists, is by no means a certain runner at Epsom. His only trial option is the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday week, and the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly the day after Epsom is his more likely Classic target. "If he goes to Epsom we'd like to give him a run," said O'Brien, "but if we can't manage that then he could go to France without one."

Turf account

Sue Montgomery's Nap

Caldercruix (4.50 Redcar)

Ran notably green in an eased-down victory on his seasonal debut here last month. Was value for more than his winning margin and can go on despite a higher mark.

Next best

Shelfah (7.10 Windsor)

Produced a creditable effort in a narrow defeat last time, when the winner had a better run through the race, and steps back up to a more favourable trip today.

One to watch

Path Of Peace (J Bethell), fifth in what could prove a smart fillies' maiden at Chester, should soon add to the fine record of her dam Persian Song, who has already produced eight winners in 20 races.

Where the money's going

After Timepiece's Lingfield defeat, the 1,000 Guineas seventh Rumoush is now as short as 5-1 (with Ladbrokes) for the Oaks without leaving her box.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Essexbridge (6.10 Windsor).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine