The Derby 2014: Australia set to widen Aidan O'Brien's horizons with hat-trick

No trainer has ever saddled three winners in a row

epsom

As the longest-documented of all sports, racing must be the ultimate anoraks' delight. But despite more than two centuries of statistics, there are still records to be broken and milestones to be passed. Take the most famous race of all, the Derby, which will be run on Saturday for the 235th time. In all the previous editions, no trainer has saddled three winners in a row. But there is every likelihood that this afternoon at Epsom that particular barrier will fall. After winning with Camelot and Ruler Of The World, Aidan O'Brien fields a team of four, headed by the favourite Australia.

O'Brien is one of 16 men to have completed a Derby double, and one of just four to have done it twice, after the 19th-century figures John Scott and John Porter and 20th-century paragon Fred Darling. And O'Brien came so close to that elusive hat-trick in 2003 when, following victories from Galileo and High Chaparral, The Great Gatsby was passed in the final strides by Kris Kin.

O'Brien has sent more horses to the fray than any other, before Saturday 55 over a period of 16 years. Neither he nor punters always know which one will be the best – of his winners only Galileo and Camelot headed the market, and of his six runners-up two started at 100-1 and 25-1 – but that is one of the points of a contest for relatively young and unexposed athletes. The Derby is a proving ground, a standard setter. Not the end, but a beginning.

Australia came to notice last year with some lavish praise from his trainer after a wide-margin defeat of a well-touted rival and, though he could not translate the wonder-horse words into deeds in last month's 2,000 Guineas, his close third place in a messily run contest was an admirable first try at the top level.

The form of the mile Classic is rock-solid; the two he split, Kingman and Shifting Power, have since finished first and second in the Irish Guineas and 10th-placed The Grey Gatsby ran away with the Prix du Jockey-Club on Sunday. And hype notwithstanding, Australia's effort was an eye-catching Derby trial for one thought likely to fulfil his potential only when stepped up to a mile and a half. He is thoroughly bred for the Epsom job, his parents being Galileo and the 2004 Oaks heroine Ouija Board.

Stamina and class will not be the only qualities tested; the unique switchback course demands balance and athleticism and the drawn-out preliminaries an unflappable temperament. And, on such a testing occasion on such a tricky track, luck must be along for the ride too. Australia might just have won the Guineas if the race had panned out better for him and there is even less guarantee things will go smoothly at Epsom.

Australia, the mount of O'Brien's son Joseph, may be the Ballydoyle belt, but braces are being deployed too. For at stake is not just the present and a first prize of £782,000, but the future, in the shape of a potentially lucrative stallion career. And in Geoffrey Chaucer, Orchestra and Kingfisher, O'Brien and the Coolmore Stud ownership team have three more choicely bred, well-performed colts as back-up.

Most notable among others with credentials is the well-supported Kingston Hill, especially if the forecast thunderstorms arrive and materially soften the ground. Though the grey, a first Derby runner for Roger Varian, finished only ninth in the Guineas he won at the top level at two and is another who will appreciate the distance. But O'Brien, already a Derby wizard, can do it again with Oz.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor