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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Derby guessing game continues after Rostropovich hits winning note for O'Brien

Rostropovich: landed the Dee Stakes for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore
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Who would be an ante-post punter at this time of year? It's hard enough assessing the merits of various Derby trial winners without the added worry of whether they will turn up at Epsom.

There was no such concern after Wednesday's Chester Vase, with Young Rascal owned by the Derby sponsor, but what to make of Rostropovich, who gave Aidan O'Brien his fifth victory in seven years in the Dee Stakes?

The trainer already has an apparent stranglehold on the Epsom betting, thanks to 2,000 Guineas Saxon Warrior, and openly admits that he is still sifting through the other 25 colts he has entered for a Classic he has won six times.

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The next testing grounds will be this weekend's Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and Lingfield Derby Trial and O'Brien said: "Then we have a little bit of time to see what the lads want to do with them. We have to find out where we're going to go with them. Everybody's learning the same time as we are, you are all seeing them on the track."

O'Brien is more than likely to be well represented numerically in the Derby and he said: "I'm never against running a lot of horses, that's what they're born, bred and reared to do. We give them a chance."

Ryan Moore gives Rostropovich a well-deserved pat after his Dee Stakes victory
The Prix du Jockey-Club is a viable alternative for Rostropovich and he is a 10-1 chance for that race with Ladbrokes – and a best-priced 20-1 for Epsom – after scoring in clear-cut fashion by three and three-quarter lengths under Ryan Moore.

The colt, who cost 1.1million gns as a yearling, was racing over a mile and a quarter for the first time and O'Brien said: "We always hoped and thought that when he stepped up it would suit him.

"He quickened up well, they went a nice even pace so he relaxed lovely and you'd have to be very happy. We were delighted with that, you couldn't ask him to do much more really."

Moore added: "I'm very happy with him. He ran a really nice race in France behind two good colts in their Guineas trial. Conditions suited him well, he didn't have a penalty to carry, and for the first time in his life he had nice ground, every other time he's run on soft or heavy ground. 

"He stepped up in trip and it suited him well, he did it like a smart colt."

Young Rascal's trainer William Haggas was second with My Lord And Master this time, and his wife Maureen said: "He's run a good race as I don't think he looked that comfortable on the track. He's a neat little horse and you would have thought he would come round here easily.

"I think he's still a bit green and wants a bit further now. I know he beat Young Rascal last season but yesterday's horse is quite nice – a big scopey man of a horse. This fellow is straightforward and more of a good workmanlike horse."

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I'm never against running a lot of horses, that's what they're born, bred and reared to do. We give them a chance
E.W. Terms
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