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).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
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

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Payment Developer (Swift, FOX, Vigil, .NET, SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Payment Dev...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?