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Bolshoi Ballet second-favourite for Epsom Derby after authoritative Ballysax success

O’Brien colt set for Derrinstown next before Epsom, with High Definition also poised for a trial.

Ryan Moore rides Bolshoi Ballet to victory.
Ryan Moore rides Bolshoi Ballet to victory.
Image: PA

BOLSHOI BALLET ENHANCED his Classic claims as he provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with an 11th victory in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Ballydoyle handler saddled subsequent Epsom heroes Galileo and High Chaparral to land successive runnings of the Derby trial in 2001 and 2002, while four-time Gold Cup winner Yeats also features on the roll of honour.

O’Brien was doubly represented in this year’s renewal, with Dundalk maiden winner Lough Derg joined by stablemate Bolshoi Ballet – a winner at the track in the autumn before finishing fifth at Group One level in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Ryan Moore kept things simple aboard the 2-1 favourite, allowing him to track the pacesetting Catena Zapata for much of the 10-furlong journey before taking over the lead two furlongs from home.

Lough Derg found a gap on the fence and briefly looked a threat, but Bolshoi Ballet hit the line strongly to score by just over two lengths. Lough Derg was run out of the places late on by Flying Visit and Taipan.

Coral make Bolshoi Ballet their 12-1 second-favourite for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, with stable companion High Definition heading the market at 7-2.

O’Brien said: “You’d be delighted with him as he only ran on soft ground (last season) and will have learned a lot today.

“He’ll probably come back here for the Derrinstown if all goes well with him. He’s straightforward and, while you’re never sure, he should get a mile and a half. He goes to the line well.

“High Definition will go for one of the Derby trials. We didn’t want to give him two runs before the Derby, but we thought this horse would be able for two.

“He’s in full work and we’re very happy with him.”

Earlier on Sunday, Keeper Of Time clung on for a shock victory in the Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” 1,000 Guineas Trial.

The daughter of Mehmas was a widely unconsidered 80-1 chance for the Group Three contest, having finished fifth in a Curragh handicap on her first start for trainer Johnny Feane three weeks ago.

However, ridden by Ronan Whelan, Keeper Of Time displayed a smart change of gear to come from the middle of pack and grab the lead in the final furlong – and she had just enough in the tank to repel the thrusting late challenge of Mehnah by a head.

Poetic Flare underlined his Classic credentials with an impressive display in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” 2,000 Guineas Trial.

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A son of trainer Jim Bolger’s multiple Group One winner Dawn Approach, Poetic Flare won twice from three juvenile starts last season, including a course and distance success in October’s Killavullan Stakes.

Making his first appearance since, the three-year-old was a 3-1 shot for this Listed assignment and was always travelling strongly towards the head of affairs.

Ace Aussie came from a long way back to grab the runner-up spot late on, but never threatened to lay a glove on Poet Flare, who had already quickened up smartly to seal a one-and-a-half-length victory in the hands of Kevin Manning.

Bolger was represented by his daughter, Una Manning, who said: “I’m told he could go anywhere. He (Bolger) hasn’t decided which of the Guineas, but the two of them (Poetic Flare and Mac Swiney) won’t run in the same race. The boss is very happy with them.”

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