Aidan O’Brien Oaks and Derby Contenders

Changingoftheguard shortened dramatically for the Derby after recording a thoroughly impressive display in the Boodles Chester Vase. Trainer Aidan O'Brien had saddled a record nine previous winners of the Group Three contest, with his Ruler Of The World the last horse to follow up at Epsom in 2013. O’Brien already houses the ante-post favourite for the premier Classic in the form of Saturday’s 2000 Guineas third Luxembourg. And while the previously unbeaten New London was the colt expected to emerge as perhaps Luxembourg’s biggest threat with victory on the Roodee, Changingoftheguard had other ideas. Sent straight to the lead by Ryan Moore, the 100-30 chance soon built up a handy buffer over Charlie Appleby’s favourite New London. It was clear from before the home turn that the market leader was struggling to bridge the gap and Changingoftheguard galloped all the way up the straight to pass the post six and a half lengths clear. The winner is a best-priced 10-1 from 66-1 for the Derby."He was impressive there and we always thought he’d stay well," said O’Brien.

Thoughts Of June (7-1) dominated from the front to provide O'Brien with a seventh victory in the Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Cheshire Oaks. Without a win in three previous outings, the daughter of Galileo was last seen finishing second to the reopposing Above The Curve in a Leopardstown maiden four weeks ago. Seemingly keen to ensure the mile-and-a-half contest was a stern test of stamina, Moore bustled his mount away from the starting stalls to get to the lead and she remained there throughout. Having been ridden with more restraint by Shane Crosse, Above The Curve moved stylishly into Thoughts Of June’s slipstream rounding the home turn and looked sure to pick her up in the short straight. But the market leader hung slightly when coming under pressure and did not pick up as expected in the rain-softened ground, allowing the Ballydoyle runner to see her off by a neck. O'Brien said afterwards: "We’ve always liked her a lot and I loved her run the first day back at Leopardstown behind Joseph’s filly. "I thought she’d come forward from that and she clearly did."She got a great ride from Ryan and they are obviously two very good fillies as Joseph’s ran a great race too. "We’d been thinking of the Oaks for her and that was the reason for sending her to Chester, to see if she’d handle it and it was going to teach her plenty. "I haven’t had chance to speak to Ryan but she seemed to handle the ground fine and seems versatile."

Star Of India displayed a willing attitude to provide trainer Aidan O'Brien with a ninth victory in the Homeserve Dee Stakes at Chester. Gypsy King (2005), Magician (2013) and Circus Maximus (2019) are among the Ballydoyle handler’s previous winners of the Derby trial on the Roodee. His latest challenger, who won his only juvenile start at Leopardstown in October, was the 6-4 favourite off the back of finishing fifth in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago. Stepping up to a mile and a quarter for the first time, Star Of India slightly missed the break and had to be bustled along by Ryan Moore before taking his position on the heels of the pacesetting Mr McCann. The latter remined in front at the top of the short straight, but the further Star Of India went the better he looked and he passed the post with two and a quarter lengths in hand. Cresta came through to fill the runner-up spot, with Mr McCann – who counts Liverpool stars James Milner, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson among his owners – fading into fifth.

The winner is a best-price 20-1 shot for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom. O’Brien also houses ante-post favourite Luxembourg and another leading contender in Wednesday’s Chester Vase winner Changingoftheguard. Moore said: "He’s a nice horse and it was only his third run, so that was a good performance."He’s still learning and things were happening a little quick for him in places, but he got it done well in the end. I think he’ll improve as he’s a very laid-back horse. "We’re only just getting to know about him. When he came off the bridle I think that was more through greenness than anything else. "It was a big learning curve today. He ran in a straight line at Newmarket and then he’s gone round a bend today.

Aidan O’Brien expects Ryan Moore to choose impressive Leopardstown winner Stone Age as his Cazoo Derby ride. Despite having long-time ante-post favourite Luxembourg ruled out due to a muscular problem, O’Brien still holds plenty of aces in the Epsom Classic. He won both Derby trials at Chester through Changingoftheguard in the Vase and Star Of India in the Dee Stakes and continued his dominance when United Nations beat Charlie Appleby’s well-touted Walk Of Stars at Lingfield. Arguably the deepest trial took place closer to home, however, and as Stone Age crossed the line five and a half lengths clear in the Leopardstown contest, he was installed as the new favourite."I think Ryan would find it hard not to ride the horse from yesterday," O’Brien said during a press morning at his Ballydoyle stables. "We know the way they’ll be ridden – Changingoftheguard will go forward and that would suit the horse that won yesterday."The one that won at Chester over a mile and a quarter (Star Of India) will also go forward but he’s a little bit lazy, so he might end up tucking in a little bit. The horse that won at Lingfield will go forward as he stays well, Charlie’s horse (Natural World) went a good gallop there.

"I’d imagine Ryan will find it hard not to ride Stone Age, but I don’t know. "You’d have had to be impressed with him. You’d have liked something to have led him. There was one that ran at Cork (French Claim) we thought would lead but he didn’t, so there was no point in messing him about so we let him bowl along. "The good thing about him is that he got a lot of experience at two, he was always happy to be dropped in and he learned a lot but we weren’t running him to teach him." He went on: "In all the trials we were very happy to make the running and set a good pace to see whether they were going to stay the trip or not and that’s what Ryan did, he bounced them all out and if someone else wanted to lead then great, if not he’d go.