Horses To Follow » Orchestra


Orchestra put up a really nice performance in winning the Chester Vase at Chester last Wednesday.

Settled nicely by Ryan Moore in fourth place behind a decent pace, Aidan O’Brien’s horse travelled really well through his race. He did have the run of the race, just behind the leaders and along the inside rail, but he travelled like the best horse in the race from a long way out. Still on the bridle as all his rivals came under a drive as they started on the run around the home turn, he eased through on the inside of Stars Over The Sea two and a half furlongs out as that one moved off the inside rail. In front and still travelling easily as they straightened up for home, he picked up when his rider asked him to, putting two lengths between himself and his closest pursuer Romsdal as they passed the furlong pole. Romsdal did close the gap all the way to the line, and he actually stretched his neck out right on the line and made the photo finish much tighter than it might have been. However, Orchestra probably had a lot more in hand than the winning margin of a nose.

On the face of it, it is not a positive that Orchestra allowed Romsdal – a horse who does not even have a Derby entry – get as close to him as he did. In mitigation, however, Romsdal himself is a talented and hugely progressive individual, and the pair of them pulled clear of their rivals. On top of that, it is probable that Orchestra was idling when he hit the front. He moved over towards the stands rail in the short home straight. He was pricking his ears and appeared to be looking at the crowd through the final furlong.

Ryan Moore said afterwards that he didn’t want to hit the front as early as he did, but that when the gap presented itself along the inside rail, he had no option but to take it. He probably would have won by further had he been held up for longer.

The fact that Joseph O’Brien rode Carlo Bugatti in the race instead of Orchestra may have been construed as a negative against the Galileo colt initially. However, the market eventually told you that Orchestra was the better-fancied of the pair, and it may have been that Aidan O’Brien wanted Moore to ride the horse in the trial, well aware of the fact that Joseph would probably ride Australia in the Derby and conscious of the fact that it may be that Moore would be riding Orchestra at Epsom.

This is a trial that O’Brien has used for some of his top Derby prospects in the past. Ruler Of The World won the Vase last year before going on to win the Derby and Treasure Beach won the Vase in 2011 before finishing second, beaten just a head by Pour Moi, in the Derby as a prelude to victory in the Irish Derby. Even Golden Sword, who won the Vase in 2009, led to the furlong pole in Sea The Stars’ Derby.

Ballydoyle obviously have a really strong Derby hand again this year, headed by Australia, but it might be a mistake to under-estimate Orchestra. This was just his third race ever, and he is certain to come on for it. Also, it was his seasonal debut, so he is entitled to strip fitter next time. He is by Galileo out of a half-sister to Irish Oaks winner Moonstone, so he should have no problem staying this trip in a more strongly-run race at Epsom. And Ryan Moore would obviously be a huge asset at Epsom. Remember that it was Moore who rode the Ballydoyle second string, Ruler Of The World, in last year’s Derby.

8th May 2014