Derby bid ruled out as Churchill takes aim at 2,000 Guineas double
Churchill is set to bid for a Guineas double at the Curragh on Saturday, according to trainer Aidan O'Brien, seemingly ending any lingering hopes he could be aimed at the Investec Derby.
The Newmarket hero can now be backed at 10-1 to complete a Classic double at Epsom next month, and is no longer quoted by William Hill. Instead his Classic double bid is set to revolve around the Curragh, for which assignment he is a best-priced 4-11 shot with Sky Bet.
But O'Brien could yet have up to seven runners in the Derby, he said on Sunday, with Dee Stakes winner Cliffs Of Moher his number one according to the market, the colt sharing favouritism with Cracksman at 4-1.
Churchill's fellow Newmarket Guineas winner Winter is also set for a follow-up bid at the Curragh, and with Minding also due to run next Sunday it could be quite a weekend for the Ballydoyle juggernaut.
He continued: “Lancaster Bomber (fourth) and Spirit Of Valor (eighth), both of whom ran behind Churchill at Newmarket, will probably join him in the line-up again, while Hydrangea, who was behind Winter in the 1,000 Guineas, will probably take her chance in Sunday’s Classic.”
O’Brien has never completed the Newmarket-Curragh 1,000 Guineas double, with Virginia Waters (2005), Homecoming Queen (2012) and Minding a year ago all failing to follow up.
He has, however, completed the 2,000 Guineas double on three occasions, through Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Henrythenavigator (2008) and Gleneagles (2015). George Washington finished second in 2006 after winning at Newmarket.
"Minding came out of her Naas win well and the plan is to run her on Sunday," O'Brien said.
Regarding plans for his attempt at a sixth Derby victory a week on Saturday, O’Brien said: “We have seven colts in the picture for Epsom – Cliffs Of Moher plus Venice Beach, Wings Of Eagles and The Anvil, who were the first three in the Chester Vase, and Douglas Macarthur, Yucatan and Capri, the first three in the Derrinstown Derby Trial. They're all in the mix.
"We'll wait until next week before finalising plans, but it's quite possible they could all run.”