Ed Chamberlin reflects on the key Classic trials at Chester and Lingfield

Ed Chamberlin has his say on the day's action
Ed Chamberlin has his say on the day's action

Our columnist reflects on the key Classic trials at Chester and Lingfield and rates them from five to one.

It's been a week of Classic trial action on ITV and at the end of it the talk is of Aidan O'Brien's domination of the Investec Derby build-up.

Some argue it takes away from the premier Classic but for me its absolutely fascinating. It's up to the other superpowers to find a way to compete with - and beat - the Coolmore juggernaut on a regular basis.

I remember, when presenting football, often discussing how on earth Premier League clubs could catch Real Madrid and Barcelona and now look at this season's European finals...

So here is my 5-4-3-2-1 for this week's trials.

5 Circus Maximus - Homeserve Dee Stakes Chester

Of all the winners at Lingfield and Chester this son of Galileo was the least impressive to my eyes. He didn't look to have the gears of some of the others and I'd agree with Johnny Murtagh's instant reaction that he's more of a Queen's Vase horse than a Derby winner.

Circus Maximus wins the Dee Stakes at Chester
Circus Maximus wins the Dee Stakes at Chester

4 Anapurna - RaceBets Money Back All Losers Oaks Trial Fillies' Stakes Lingfield

In contrast to the Derby, the Investec Oaks market is wide open and there looks to be a strong home challenge. The filly that impressed me most was Maqsad in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket for William Haggas, but this was a nice performance from Anapurna.

Again I'd have to agree with an ITV pundit, this time Fran Berry, who was worried about whether she'd have the experience to handle an Oaks - and all that goes with it. She looked green and needed plenty of organising by Frankie Dettori at Lingfield but is clearly a filly with a bright future. It's wonderful to see the Helena Springfield colours back on the big stage too.

Anapurna is clear of her rivals at Lingfield
Anapurna is clear of her rivals at Lingfield

3 Sir Dragonet - MBNA Chester Vase

He was almost mind-blowingly impressive at Chester on Wednesday. Before the race he knocked both Pat Smullen and Johnny Murtagh's eyes out in the paddock - they loved him even more after what he did on the track. I was moved at the time to say it was almost Shergar-esque, the way he powered clear.

Jockey Donnacha O'Brien said he knew nothing about this horse until a couple of weeks ago and you sense he was only a lead horse at Ballydoyle. That shows, A, how strong a hand they have with the middle-distance three-year-old colts, and B, how he comes to life on the track. That said I'd fear he needs soft ground to feature in an Investec Derby and would worry about him early on at Epsom. As Johnny argued - he'd be a shoo-in for the Irish Derby.

Sir Dragonet is a striking winner of the Chester Vase
Sir Dragonet is a striking winner of the Chester Vase

2 Mehdaayih - Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks

She won the performance of the week from Francesca Cumani after showing a serious turn of foot in the Cheshire Oaks. I would just question the form of the race, I don't think it was an Enable year, but there's no doubting the visual impression Mehdaayih made. It wasn't enough to put me off Maqsad though.

Mehdaayih spreadeagles her field at Chester
Mehdaayih spreadeagles her field at Chester

1 Anthony Van Dyk - RaceBets Derby Trial Stakes Lingfield

When I left Chester on Friday afternoon I assumed this fellow was going to be an odds-on shot for the Lingfeld trial. The way he drifted out to 2/1 suggests not much was expected but I was really impressed with this performance. Ryan Moore was more effusive than normal in his praise afterwards and clearly he's on the Epsom radar for the Ballydoyle team - but we might not have seen the best of their Derby colts yet.

Anthony Van Dyck is clear under Ryan Moore
Anthony Van Dyck is clear under Ryan Moore

Johnny Murtagh said earlier in the week that Aidan often runs his main one in the Derrinstown trial and the rumour mill suggests Broome is very good and then we have Japan to look forward to in a red-hot renewal of the Dante at York - in against Too Darn Hot et al.

I can't wait for the three days on the Knavesmire, it's always a wonderful week, as was Chester despite the occasional drenching from the rain. It's now time to recharge the batteries and get ready for those final Classic clues.


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