Master trainer Aidan O'Brien firmly laid down his intentions for this years Epsom Derby clash on June 1st with last week seeing four of his possible hopefuls for the prestigious Group 1 contest go on and land there specific trials.
O'Brien's Derby Onslaught
Wednesday was the first day of the Chester May Boodles festival and the Chester Vase was seen as a Derby trial for those involved with the distance being very similar to that of the Group 1 seasonal feature.
Aidan O'Brien fielded two runners and landed a 1-2 in the race with the winner Sir Dragonet beating his stablemate Norway by eight lengths being eased down and making a real statement in the betting market.
He was the outsider of the O'Brien pairing going off at 13/2 but with the rain falling it played into his hands and saw him extend his unbeaten record of two wins from two races.
The son of Camelot did not previously have an entry for the Epsom Derby but after landing the Group 3 contest he was immediately added and is now a general 3/1 favourite joint with John Gosden's Too Darn Hot.
Day two of the Chester May festival saw another smart day of racing and another of O'Brien's team looking stake a claim in the Derby market and Circus Maximus did just that.
In the Listed Dee Stakes over just short of the Epsom Derby Distance he was a nice winer of the contest with the Irish trainer landing another 1-2 in the contest with Mohawk finishing a length back in second.
The son of Galileo was 25/1 before the start of the race and after landing contest came in to 20/1 with some firms now offering a best price of 14/1.
Anthony Van Dyck
The weekend bought some more great racing and some more opportunities to take a look at a bunch of potential Derby entrants.
The Listed Derby Trial at Lingfield was a race of obvious interest and Aidan O'Brien only sent one over for the contest which again started alarm bells and Anthony Van Dyck, a smart two year old who had looked to have matured into his coat and look and much stronger animal, was the horse on show.
He worryingly drifted slightly in the market before the race and went off as the 2/1 favourite but there was no need to worry and he landed the spoils under a nice ride from Ryan Moore to become the third O'Brien to enter Derby calculations.
He was 12/1 to take the spoils at Epsom before the race but after winning nicely he was nudged into 9/1 with 6/1 now being the preferred price by the majority of bookmakers.
The final horse from the O'Brien yard last week that was worth some not for the Derby was Broome who on Sunday as 2/5 favourite to land the Group 3 Derby Trial at Leopardstown and did so nicely.
This time under the ride of the trainers son Donnacha O'Brien who was an easy winner by two and half lengths to stablemate Blenheim Palace with the Ballydoyle handler landing a 1-2-3 in the race.
This was the Australia colts second impressive win after landing the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown last month and with that in mind was a 8/1 shot for the Derby.
After backing up his potential he is now 6/1 with O'Brien looking to dominate this prestigious contest.