Changingoftheguard (100-30) put his name firmly in the picture for next month’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom Downs (Saturday 4th June) with an emphatic all the way success in the Group Three Boodles Chester Vase at Chester today.
The son of Galileo came into the race as a firm second favourite behind the Godolphin runner New London but he quickly put his stamp on the race, bursting out of the stalls and making every yard for a six and a half-length success under Ryan Moore.
It provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with a record-breaking 10th winner in the Group Three contest, a race which has produced two Derby winners in the last 10 years courtesy of the 2013 winner Ruler Of The World and 2017 runner-up Wings Of Eagles, both of whom we’re trained by O’Brien.
Changingoftheguard was shortened into a general price of 8-1 from 50-1 for next month’s Epsom Classic behind stablemate and 2-1 favourite Luxembourg and Coolmore’s UK representative Kevin Buckley was pleased with the performance.
Buckley said: “Aidan felt that the horse had improved substantially since his win at Dundalk and he felt he was going to appreciate the step up in trip, so we’re happy with that.
“These trials help us see what we’ve got and where they are and now we know with him. I would presume it’s highly likely that he will head to Epsom. Obviously, Aidan will have to speak to the owners but why not. We all love the Derby and we want to win it so the more representation we have, the better.
“I think he’s fairly flexible in terms of the ground. He acted on the all-weather at Dundalk and he handled those conditions today, so he’s versatile.”
Coolmore could have as many as 10 runners in the Derby and Buckley feels that Changingoftheguard is certainly entitled to take his chance on the back of that performance.
He added: “He’s just won a trial emphatically and it’s a record-breaking 10th Chester Vase for Aidan. We felt he’d improved and we’re finding out where we are at the moment so we could not be happier with that performance and the winning distance too.
“You’d have to say given his run in the Guineas on Saturday that Luxembourg certainly would be my number one pick, but you’d have to raise that guy in my estimations now as well. We’re in the middle of the trials now, so we’ll have runners in them all and see where we are after the Dante.”
Winning jockey Ryan Moore, riding a record eighth Chester Vase winner, commented: “He was very impressive today. Obviously, stepping up in trip suited him and you never know with these three year olds how much they’re going to improve as they go up in trip.
“He was obviously very impressive today and he beat a well-regarded colt. He’s only just beginning to come so we wouldn’t be sure what he’s going to be yet but it’s a very good performance.”
Meanwhile, Charlie Appleby’s assistant Alex Merriam said of the runner-up and 4-11 Favourite New London: “He just never got into it for whatever reason. Will said he couldn’t put his finger on it, whether it was the ground or the track. It’s back to the drawing board and there are a couple more trials to go. We don’t want to blame the track or the ground, we were beaten by the better horse on the day.”
Jockey William Buick added: “The winner piled it on from the front and stayed at it. I’m sure the winner is a decent horse, this lad has got a lot to learn still.”
It proved to be a successful afternoon for O’Brien and Moore, who also struck in the Listed Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Cheshire Oaks courtesy of an ultra-game performance from Thoughts Of June (7-1).
The daughter of Galileo arrived here as a maiden from three outings but showed plenty of ability here, breaking well out of the stalls and holding on gamely from 5-4 Favourite Above The Curve, turning the tables on last month’s run to finish second to that rival at Leopardstown in the process.
The Cheshire Oaks is a key pointer for next month’s Group One Cazoo Oaks, with two horses going on to win at Epsom in the last five years courtesy of the 2017 winner Enable and the 2018 runner-up Forever Together.
And Kevin Buckley feels that she has earned her right to head to Epsom Downs on Friday 3rd June.
He said: “We’ll get her home as usual and Aidan will have a chat with the owners but I’d think on that performance we’re likely to head to Epsom.
“Aidan always felt that stepping her up in trip here would be to her liking and it was just whether she’d take to the bends here which she did and Ryan was very happy with her. We’re looking forward to June.”
The Jockey Club Press Release