The Betfred Derby eluded Donnacha O’Brien as a jockey, but he could take one step closer to the Epsom winners’ enclosure as a trainer on Sunday when Proud And Regal reappears in the Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.
The Galileo colt was the most consistent of juveniles last season and after winning the Tyros Stakes at the Dublin track on his second outing, he went on to finish third in the Futurity Stakes before chasing home Al Riffa in the Group One National Stakes.
He went one place better when finishing off his campaign with a top-table success in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud and is reported to have done well, with his handler keen to see if he can become a real contender for the premier Classic on June 3.
“He’s wintered well, he’s done very well over the winter,” said O’Brien.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure what his trip is going to be, whether he will be a 10- or 12-furlong horse or maybe even he drops back to a mile, but it is great to get him started. He’s in good form and ready to run.
“The downside of winning a Group One (at two) is you have a penalty in a lot of the trials, so we just had to wait for this one which he didn’t have a penalty in and suited him well. But for sure he is an exciting horse and we’re looking forward to him running.
“The hope is that he becomes a Derby horse, that’s the dream, but I guess we will find out more on Sunday. If he goes and wins well, we will for sure have to have a look at Epsom, but if he didn’t we may have to alter our plans.”
If O’Brien and Proud And Regal are to prove successful in this 10-furlong Group Three, they will need to end father Aidan’s four-year winning run in the race and the master of Ballydoyle boasts strong representation once again.
Londoner carries the highest rating of his trio based on his Longchamp fourth when beaten less than two lengths in the Prix Noailles, while Tower Of London and Mohawk Chief are the others in the mix as the handler seeks his 16th win in the race.
Although a maiden, Joseph O’Brien’s Up And Under finished second in the Ballysax Stakes over course and distance last month and has shown a great deal of ability in two starts to date, with Goldenstatewarrior an interesting proposition pitched into deeper waters following a battling debut victory at Gowran for Johnny Murtagh.
Jessica Harrington’s Sprewell and Joseph Murphy’s Mr Lincoln complete the line-up and are both stepping up in trip having started the campaign with wins at a mile.