O’Brien: Decision on Churchill Derby run in the balance

Churchill has won on his last six starts

Aidan O’Brien has described the prospects of his Qipco 2000 Guineas hero Churchill lining up in the Investec Derby at Epsom on 3 June as "only possible".

Churchill gave O’Brien an eighth win in the opening Classic of the season when he saw off Barney Roy by a length on the Rowley Mile.

His connections have yet to reveal whether Churchill will take up his entry at Epsom over a mile and a half or remain at a mile, here his upcoming targets would include the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Sired by the all-conquering Galileo, Churchill’s pedigree is a mixture of speed and stamina, meaning that he’s uncertain to get the Derby trip, although his relaxed style of racing should aid his cause if connections go down that route.

O’Brien indicated that owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier may wish to see how their representatives perform in Thursday’s Dante Stakes at York before arriving at a final decision, although they already have another leading fancy for Espom in the form of Cliff Of Moher.

"I think only possible," was O’Brien’s assessment of Churchill’s participation at Epsom when he was interviewed on RTÉ 2fm’s Game On.

"Probably the middle of this week is the time we have to decide, really, because towards the end of this week his work programmes will change if he’s going to the Derby.

"Up to now he would have been doing the same things anyway, but like I said, probably from the middle of this week it will change.

"The lads have to make their mind up now where they’re going to and I would think they probably want to see what’s going to happen in York, as well.

"We might have a couple of runners in that and we’ll see then."

The picture is rather clearer with the master trainer’s one-two from the fillies’ Classic at Newmarket, with winner Winter set to contest the Irish 1,000 Guineas and runner-up Rhododendron heading for the Oaks, a race which she will almost certainly go off as favourite for.

"Rhododendron ran very well, it was a great run for her first run of the year," he said.

"Winter had a run.

"I’d imagine at the moment that they’ll probably go different roads.

"Winter will probably stay at a mile and might come to the Curragh.

"Rhododendron might go straight to Espom."

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