It's Broome for David Ord in Saturday's Investec Derby - check out his horse-by-horse guide to the Epsom showpiece.
ANTHONY VAN DYCK: Twice placed at Group One level as a juvenile and returned with an authoritative win in the Lingfield Trial despite connections feeling he needed the run. There are no stamina questions to answer and he looks just one of a number of rock-solid contenders for the Ballydoyle team.
BANGKOK: Always been highly regarded and broke his maiden at Doncaster on reappearance in April, beating Telecaster. Stepped up on that effort to win the Sandown Trial from Technician, who was never a factor behind Sir Dragonet at Chester subsequently. Interesting runner but needs to take another leap forward.
BROOME: Touched off by Royal Marine in Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp at two and impressed with victories in the Ballysax and Derrinstown Stud trials this spring. Already holds very strong form claims but there’s more to come going up to a mile-and-a-half here. If he can hold his position through the first mile he looks the one to beat.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS: A fourth Aidan O’Brien entry and another trial winner, in his case making all to beat stablemate Mohawk in the Dee Stakes at Chester. Smart two-year-old form saw him finish close to Magna Grecia twice (behind Perisan King in the Autumn Stakes and Phoenix Of Spain in the the Vertem Futurity) and should relish a mile-and-a-half. Another to consider seriously.
HIROSHIMA: Won his Southwell maiden in good style but limitations exposed behind Anthony Van Dyk at Lingfield last time and he’s in even deeper here.
HUMANITARIAN: In excellent hands and looked ready to go up in grade when making all at Salisbury on his reappearance. However, this is a leap rather than a step up in class and as nice a prospect as he is – and despite being with John Gosden – it’s hard to see him being good enough to win a Derby.
JAPAN: The last of the O’Brien team to run in his trial and shaped as the market suggested he would when fourth behind Telecaster in the Dante. There’s more to come as he goes up in trip but his bigger days are likely to come further down the line.
LINE OF DUTY: Progressed with every run at two, culminating with Grade One success in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but precious little encouragement from reappearance seventh in Dante at York. Folded quickly under pressure at the Knavesmire and has a few questions to answer now.
MADHMOON: Shaped as though ready to go up in trip when rallying fourth behind Magna Grecia in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and had Broome two-and-a-half lengths in arrears when landing his Group Two as a juvenile. Interesting runner who doesn’t have a lot to find if he does last home.
NORWAY: On his toes ahead of his Chester reappearance where he got a distant view of stablemate Sir Dragonet’s rear. Not the most obvious Derby winner currently lurking among the Ballydoyle team.
SIR DRAGONET: A very rare sleeper for his connections given he had to be supplemented back into this Classic following his runaway win in the Chester Vase. That eight-length demolition of Norway came only two weeks after a winning debut in a Tipperary maiden when sent off at 14/1. Looked potentially high class at the Roodee but is as light on experience as he is high on potential.
SOVEREIGN: Placed behind Broome in both the Ballysax and Derrinstown trials and will be here to lead the field through the first mile if declared.
TELECASTER: Progressing at a rate of knots, following up his Doncaster run behind Bangkok with demolition of inferior rivals at Windsor and smooth win in the Dante. Much was made of the run of Too Darn Hot in the latter which somewhat eclipsed performance of winner who travelled very well behind the trailblazing Turgenev and kept on strongly after going to the front two out. Should act around Epsom and stay the trip so ticks plenty of boxes. Looks by some way the best of the home defence.
VERDICT: All the talk in the build-up has been the strength of Aidan O’Brien’s team after their domination of the trials. Sir Dragonet looked a colt of rich potential at Chester, Circus Maximus has been underestimated in the market but BROOME is the pick. He’s looked every inch a Derby colt in winning the Ballysax and Derrinstown Stud Trial this spring and is battle-hardened.
Telecaster is a big threat after being supplemented following is win in the Dante while Madhmoon has to be respected as everything he did at two – and his run in the Guineas – suggests he's going to be a force at middle-distances this term.
3rd Circus Maximus