US Army Ranger: Derby favourite has second career startPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
US Army Ranger on parade for Derby in Vase
LAST weekend Aidan O'Brien was only able to deliver the 1,000 Guineas as Air Force Blue bombed out in the 2,000 Guineas but, as is usually the way with Ballydoyle, another high-class prospect is waiting in the wings.
US Army Ranger is considered O'Brien's main Investec Derby prospect and while Minding is shorter in the ante-post market with some firms, her participation is not guaranteed.
Winner of the same Curragh maiden on debut that 2013 Derby winner Ruler Of The World claimed en route to victory in this, US Army Ranger does lack experience and has his second career start in the Group 3 MBNA Vase.
On Wednesday stablemate and Oaks contender Somehow narrowly overcame greeness in Wednesday's Cheshire Oaks.
Speaking post-race, O'Brien was concerned US Army Ranger may need the experience even more, but he is excited about the potential of the son of Galileo.
"US Army Ranger is still a baby, as he's only done it once and it was on very slow ground," O'Brien said. "This will teach him much more of what Epsom is about. He's a very nice horse and could be massive.
"He's a very nice prospect and has always gone through his work very easily. He has massive potential, he has been doing his work with the Group horses and he'd always come there cantering so we know he has a massive engine."
Leading the opposition
O'Brien also saddles Port Douglas for a race he is bidding to win for the fourth straight year, and US Army Ranger is long odds-on.
Charlie Hills considers High Grounds to be his Derby hope, and is hoping for an improved display after his third to Midterm in Sandown's Classic Trial.
Any rain would throw High Ground's participation in doubt, but it is not forecast, and Hills said: "His third at Sandown was a step up and he will stay very well. We're taking on the Derby favourite so finishing second would be a good performance. He'll learn plenty from the experience."
The going at Chester was changed to good, good to soft in places after the first race.