Classic disappointment in France for Aidan O’Brien but Los Angeles looks prime Derby player after Trial victory (2024)

Aidan O’Brien endured French frustration on Sunday but still emerged from the home front with an unbeaten Group One-winning Derby prospect in Los Angeles.

Unlike the hugely hyped City Of Troy who flopped the previous weekend at Newmarket, or Henry Longfellow who couldn’t overcome a luckless passage in Sunday’s French 2,000 Guineas, Los Angeles still boasts a spotless resume after success in Leopardstown’s Cashel Palace Derby Trial.

The Camelot colt’s top-flight victory in October’s Criterium De Saint-Cloud attracted nothing like the focus his more high-profile stable companions did but he was cut to as low as 8-1 for Epsom glory on June 1st after his successful return to action.

There was nothing spectacular about Los Angeles’ length defeat of stable companion Euphoric in a Group Three finish where just a few lengths covered the five runners.

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However, the clear paddock pick shaped as a horse almost certain to improve significantly from his first start of the season and progress for the step up to 1½ miles.

Los Angeles was the centrepiece of a Leopardstown 30-1 four-timer for jockey Wayne Lordan who made home hay from Ryan Moore’s presence at Longchamp for the French Guineas.

“He’s a lovely horse, very laid-back, and he needed to get out. He’s going to make a good step forward and be a better horse when up at a mile and a half,” Lordan said.

O’Brien being in Paris too reflected the weight of expectation on Henry Longfellow who started favourite for a rain-delayed Poule D’Essai Des Poulians.

The thunderstorm that lashed Longchamp wasn’t followed by any lightening performance by the Irish star who suffered a troubled passage from the rear of the field in a classic won by the local outsider Metropolitan. O’Brien’s other hope, Diego Velazquez, did better and finished fourth.

Earlier, Willie McCreery’s Vespertilio overcame a wide passage to finish an honourable third to the 31-1 Aga Khan-owned winner, Rouhiya in the French 1,000 Guineas. O’Brien’s hope Content raced too freely and faded to eighth.

With bookmakers pushing Henry Longfellow’s Derby odds to 20-1, and City Of Troy’s position as joint-favourite with Godolphin’s Arabian Crown an expression of faith in O’Brien performing another transformation à la Auguste Rodin a year ago, there looks to be a reassuring stability to Los Angeles.

Apparently undemonstrative at home, he is nevertheless now three from three starts. An outstanding looker, Los Angeles also looks on more of an upward curve than other fancier and perhaps more precocious names whose progress may have stalled.

He was overlooked by Moore in favour of Illinois at Saint-Cloud last year and the latter couldn’t land a glove on Saturday’s impressive Lingfield Trial winner, Ambiente Friendly. With Thursday’s Dante at York the last major Derby trial, Los Angeles looks right in the Epsom mix.

“He’s a big horse but a beautiful mover and he’s got the right mind. You could see him walking around the paddock beforehand, absolutely chilled, and he has the same attitude at home.

“Camelot obviously went around there [Epsom] no problem and this horse has a lot of his good sire traits. He can travel away, and the big improvement will be when he goes up to the mile and a half,” the Ballydoyle spokesman Chris Armstrong said.

Lordan also struck in the first two races on board the Ballydoyle three-year-olds Igor Stravinsky and Highbury while also landing the final handicap on Ortelius.

Having returned to action in March after his serious fall from the ill-fated San Antonio in last summer’s Irish Derby in which he suffered leg and elbow fractures, as well as a badly lacerated arm, it was notably successful day for Ballydoyle’s new No.2 rider.

Even on a classic trial day, there was no keeping Wille Mullins out of the winner’s enclosure as Colin Keane rode Lope De Lilas to a decisive success in a 10-furlong fillies maiden.

The filly, owned by his wife, Jackie, could ultimately pitch up in July’s Irish Oaks, a race Mullins’s father, Paddy, famously won with Vintage Tipple in 2003.

“She has a pedigree that could be anything and we’ll just keep our options open. It’s easier to be in it rather than trying to get in at a late stage. We’d love to think that she’s good enough to be a contender in that,” Mullins said.

Only a nose separated Mullins from victory in the following handicap where Ethical Diamond just failed to beat Saturn whose trainer Jessica Harrington had earlier won the Amethyst Stakes with Bold Discovery.

Keane was also in Group Three-winning form having dominated the fillies trial from the front on Ger Lyons’s Wendla

“I probably had her wrong and Colin had her right. I thought the way the race was run it wasn’t going to suit as it turned into a sprint. She’s pacier than I gave her credit for,” Lyons said.

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Classic disappointment in France for Aidan O’Brien but Los Angeles looks prime Derby player after Trial victory (2024)

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