Aidan O’Brien’s first victory in the Investec Blue Riband Trial at Epsom Downs

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - Cape Of Good Hope provided Ireland’s 20-time champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien with a first success in the £50,000 Listed Investec Blue Riband Trial (2.45pm, 1m 2f 17y) at Epsom Downs today, the opening trial for the £1.5 million G1 Investec Derby back at the course on June 1.
Ridden by Ryan Moore, the three-year-old son of Galileo, the 2001 Derby winner, was settled in mid-division in the early stages of the 10-furlong contest as Massam (Mark Johnston/Franny Norton, 25/1) and Sameem (James Tate/Oisin Murphy, 9/1) set a strong pace at the head of affairs.
The front two came back towards the rest of the seven-runner field approaching Tattenham Corner with 4/1 chance Cape Of Good Hope making eye-catching headway entering the straight.
John Gosden tried to win the race for the fifth year in a row, and seventh time in total, with Turgenev (Frankie Dettori, 11/4) who progressed to take the lead at the two-furlong pole, before O’Brien’s charge swept to the front well inside the final furlong.
Cape Of Good Hope had to hold off the late challenge of the Ed Walker-trained Cap Francais (Gerald Mosse, 5/1), who raced keenly, but made good headway from last to finish a half-length behind the winner in second.
Turgenev was a further three-quarters of a length back in third. The well-backed 9/4 favourite Arthur Kitt (Tom Dascombe/Richard Kingscote) stumbled badly leaving the stalls, nearly unseating the jockey and failed to trouble the leaders, finishing fifth. The winning time was 2m 6.28s on ground described as Good, Good to Firm in places.
The winner of today’s Investec Blue Riband Trial usually gains a wildcard entry into the G1 £1.5 million Investec Derby, but Cape Of Good Hope had already been entered in Britain’s premier Classic and richest race.
The colt earned a quote for Investec Derby glory of 25/1 from Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
Cape Of Good Hope, owned by a Coolmore partnership, is a full-brother to globetrotting superstar Highland Reel, a seven-time G1 winner, who won the 2017 G1 Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs on his only outing at the course, and Idaho, who was third in the 2016 G1 Investec Derby behind Harzand.
Second to Godolphin’s Quorto in the seven-furlong G2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July, Cape Of Good Hope finished a creditable third in the G2 Royal Lodge Stakes in September over a mile on his final start as a two-year-old and benefitted from today’s step up in trip.
Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s UK representative, reported: “We are absolutely delighted, that was great.
“Cape Of Good Hope was always going to enjoy the step-up to 10 furlongs and further. He has done particularly well over the winter and is a good looking horse.
“He brought some of the best form into the race, having chased home Quorto in the Superlative, before finishing third in the Royal Lodge. Coming to Epsom, you never know what is going to happen, so it was good to get that experience around here.
“Cape Of Good Hope is a full-brother to Highland Reel who won the Coronation Cup and Idaho who was third in a Derby, so the family has experience and success around here.
“We were very pleased with that performance and Ryan said the colt settled nicely. There was a decent pace in the race, Cape Of Good Hope responded well and we will see how he comes out of this.
“Aidan has said openly that the colt was just ready to start, so he will get him home, see how he is and talk to the owners to see where they want to go.
“Cape Of Good Hope is entered in the Investec Derby anyway, so I’m sure we’ll see how the rest of the trials go. It is not my position to say whether he will come back here for the Derby, but you would like to think so.
“Ryan said he handled the track well and that the ground was absolutely perfect – Andrew Cooper [Clerk of the Course] has done a wonderful job here.
“That is just our fourth runner in this race and the highest we had finished before today was fourth with both James Cook (2018) and Claudio Monteverdi (2016), so it’s nice to get into the winner’s enclosure.
“We have a lot of trials coming up over in Ireland, Chester, Lingfield, York and more. Once we get Leopardstown and the rest sorted out, then we will have a better idea of where we are, but we couldn’t be happier with that, we are delighted.”
O’Brien is the most successful current trainer in the 12-furlong Investec Derby with six victories, including Galileo.
Cape Of Good Hope after today’s success
Ed Walker, the Upper Lambourn-based trainer of the Frankel colt Cap Francais, said afterwards: “It was a very promising though frustrating start to the year for Cap Francais.
“It is annoying – he was silly in the preliminaries and gassy to post – yet he is so laid-back at home. I know what he was like last year so we took him to Kempton on a Thursday just to paddock school him and typically he behaved like an absolute lamb.
“Here he got himself a bit revved beforehand and went down a bit keen. I said to Gerald (Mosse – the jockey) that we ought to take our time today and not get involved until the business end. It is a long old season.
“When the horse was so fresh to post, Gerald thought he should anchor Cap Francais – he did absolutely the right thing and the horse came home really well. He just needed the Derby trip!
“He is not entered in the Investec Derby and it is really difficult to know what to do with him. Cap Francais is still an inexperienced horse and Gerald said he was learning on his feet.
“He will have learnt a lot coming around the bend today. He was hanging down the camber and then when he got straight and balanced, he was the winner all over with another half-furlong to run.
“It didn’t happen (winning and gaining a wildcard entry to the Investec Derby), so what do we do now?
“He did very well last year – slightly surprising us as he is so asleep at home. The question is whether we go for another Derby trial – he wants further so the Lingfield trial (1m 3f 133y, May 11) would make sense.”
Gosden commented: “Turgenev did not seem to see the trip out, but I would like to try him once more over a mile and a quarter.
“He ran well and I thought he had the race at his mercy, but he did not quite see it out. Maybe he is just taking a little time coming to himself and we could have a look at Chester’s Dee Stakes (May 9).”
£20,000 Investec Asset Finance Handicap (2.10pm, 5f)
The first race of the new season at Epsom Downs Racecourse went to an Epsom-trained horse as Michael Attwater’s Just That Lord captured the 10-runner £20,000 Investec Asset Finance Handicap over the world’s fastest five-furlong course.
The six-year-old son of Avonbridge, who started at 5/1, finished second in the 2017 renewal and third in the 2018 edition of this handicap and finally got his head in front under Luke Morris.
Always prominent, Just That Lord held on gamely in the closing stages to deny the fast finishing 4/1 favourite Dark Shot (Scott Dixon/Theodore Ladd) by a neck.
The winning time was 54.87s, which was just over a second slower than the five-furlong course record.
Attwater, who trains over the road at Tattenham Corner Stables, earmarked the £100,000 Investec Dash Handicap on Investec Derby Day, June 1, at Epsom Downs as the gelding’s next port of call. Just That Lord finished third in the Dash last year.
The handler, gaining his ninth winner of 2019, said: “Just That Lord likes the track and he just deserved his day in the sun.
“He has to be fresh and I ran him the other day at Wolverhampton [fifth, April 16]. It wasn’t really the right race for him, but he ran particularly well and we thought if we could get him freshened up after that run then he would definitely be good enough.
“I thought at the two-furlong pole that he was going to win quite easily, but the horse on the rail found a gap and gave us a scare late on.
“Just That Lord is a lovely horse who tries very hard and just wants to get on with it.
“The fast five really suits him and it has worked out well today. I was really pleased to see him bouncing around the paddock as that is how we want him. Luke always says when the horse is like that he is on form and ready to go.
“He is a very, very quick horse and often makes the running. He was up and making the running in the Dash from stall one last year – that is how quick he is. The horse out in front today was so fast and gone that Luke just thought it would be silly to chase him and so he waited.
“I think we will go straight to the Dash now. We could get another race into him, but he will go up a couple of pounds for winning today. He ran in the Dash off a light weight last year and was third from stall one. Hopefully, we will get a bit more luck with the draw this year and it would be silly not to go for it again.
“We won’t do much with him now. He is a horse that takes very little training and will have one piece of work before the Dash. He will get turned out, hack out and just mess around. When I hear him coming up the drive, bucking and kicking and the lad hanging off him, then I know he will be ready for the Dash!”
The finish to the Investec Asset Finance Handicap 
£50,000 Investec City & Suburban Handicap (3.55pm, 1m 2f 17y)
In-form Newmarket trainer Roger Varian enjoyed a second successive victory in the £50,000 Investec City & Suburban Handicap courtesy of 7/2 chance Mountain Angel.
Ridden by Andrea Atzeni, the five-year-old son of Dark Angel travelled kindly throughout the extended 10-furlong contest and quickened up smartly under pressure to score by a length and a half from 10 rivals.
The Mark Johnston-trained Aquarium (Franny Norton, 14/1) was second, with a further half-length back to Aasheq (Tim Easterby/David Allan, 12/1) in third.
Varian saddled Ajman King to success last year and the horse went on to land the £60,000 Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap at the Investec Derby meeting. The same race, run on Friday, May 31, Investec Ladies Day at Epsom Downs, also looks the target for today’s winner.
Varian said: “It was a nice race to win and we have targeted this race from quite a way out with Mountain Angel.
“Michael Jarvis used to like winning this race and you need a progressive horse. You also need a horse that travels round here and Mountain Angel really travelled and had a good position throughout.
“Andrea gave him a beautiful ride – he got the split when he needed it and won nicely at the line. It is beautiful ground and that suited him.
“Ajman King returned to Epsom and won at the Investec Derby meeting, so it is tempting to come back here for that race again.
“Once horses have proved themselves at Epsom, it is worth running them again here. It is horses for courses so it would be logical to come back.”
Mountain Angel  
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