'Unique' City Of Troy out to give O'Brien a record-extending eighth Coral Eclipse success

Aidan O'Brien's Epsom Derby hero is now 1/4 to complete a memorable Group 1 double.

CITY OF TROY (left, dark blue cap) winning the Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs in England.
CITY OF TROY (left, dark blue cap) winning the Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs in England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Aidan O'Brien certainly knows a thing or two about winning the Group 1 Coral Eclipse having already saddled seven winners of Saturday's feature and the master of Ballydoyle looks well-poised to stretch that record to eight, with last month's Epsom Derby hero City Of Troy a 1/4 chance with race sponsors Coral for the ten-furlong prize.

Last year's champion two-year-old suffered a shock defeat in the 2000 Guineas on his reappearance at Newmarket before bouncing back with a spectacular performance in the Betfred Epsom Derby last month.

Reflecting on last month's Derby success O'Brien, who was speaking on a Zoom today organised by QIPCO British Champions Series and The Jockey Club, said: "Everything has been good with City Of Troy since Epsom, and all has gone according to plan so far. He had an easy week or 10 days after Epsom and then the build-up for the Coral-Eclipse started with him.

"The choice for him after Epsom was the Coral-Eclipse or the Irish Derby. Los Angeles (third in the Betfred Derby) went to the Irish Derby (which he won) and the plan was for City Of Troy to go to Sandown. We are looking forward to it.

"He took a bit of pulling up in the Derby. He had never run on a turning or undulating track before, had never been further than a mile and had never been dropped in. He had an awful lot to learn, and Ryan (Moore, jockey) went out with the mindset he was just going to teach him, let him relax and feel his way with him. That's what he did, and Ryan was delighted with him – he said he took off a furlong out and that's what we saw last year. It's a very unusual trait in a horse.

"He has grown up and matured and we have been very happy with everything he has done since Epsom. I was delighted for the horse and everybody else at Epsom.

"He is a very different, unique horse and with that type of horse there is always pressure as everybody knows what he can do. There is a great sense of excitement and anticipation from everybody about what is going to happen on Saturday."

None of O'Brien's previous nine Derby winners have gone on to contest the Coral-Eclipse, with the majority heading to the Irish Derby instead. Speaking about the decision to go to Sandown with City Of Troy, O'Brien added: "We didn't think the Coral-Eclipse would be any problem for him and I'm sure 'The Lads' (owners) have an eye on the Breeders' Cup Classic at the end of the year for him, although they make their minds up from race to race.

"He proved what he could do over a mile and a half at Epsom so they maybe want to see what he can do over a mile and a quarter. 'The Lads' have shown over the years that they are willing to expose horses and try new things – they are not afraid to travel, they are not afraid to keep horses in training and they are not afraid of getting beat, which is great for racing and the public.

"If they had wanted to be safe, he would have been a very short price for the Irish Derby. We had a horse with a chance of winning that race (Los Angeles) and with City Of Troy coming to Sandown, I suppose they thought it was the right thing to do for the bigger picture. The horse is going to learn more and I'm sure we are going to learn more about him.

"I'm not sure any of our previous Derby winners had the pace City Of Troy had as a two-year-old – from the first time he raced, he looked a little bit different all the way along."

Whilst O'Brien's confidence behind his newest stable star is obvious, the Ballydoyle-based handler was quick to point out the unknowns that a trip to Sandown brings for his Derby winner. "It's his first run over a mile and a quarter and his first run on a right-handed track and Sandown is an undulating track. It's also his first run against older horses, so there are a lot of unknowns," explained O'Brien.

He added: "We never thought any distance was a problem to him from when he was a two-year-old. He always gallops through the line, that's what he does and never seems to be stopping in his races. "

O'Brien is also represented on Saturday by Hans Andersen, who will act as a pacemaker.

He said: "Hans Andersen will go forward and go an even pace, which will suit everybody. You want an even pace in these big championship races rather than a muddling, messy pace when you don't really know what happened at the end of the race. We want to judge horses against one another."

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