sport

O'Brien hails Australia

Aidan O'Brien has described Australia as "a Derby horse we've not had the like of before" ahead of his tilt at the Investec-sponsored Classic.

A son of Galileo out of the brilliant racemare Ouija Board, Australia burst onto the scene with a scintillating victory at Leopardstown last September and despite his stout breeding, was strongly fancied for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month.

Although he came up short on the Rowley Mile, beaten three-quarters of a length into third, he ran a perfect trial for Epsom and he is highly likely to be a strong favourite on the Downs next month.

O'Brien has saddled four previous Derby winners in Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012) and last year's hero Ruler Of The World.

Camelot had previously won the Guineas and almost went on to complete the triple crown in St Leger, but O'Brien feels Australia is even better.

Speaking at a press morning at Ballydoyle, the trainer said: "He's a Derby horse we've not had the like of before. I thought Camelot was the best horse we had for the Derby, but this horse is another step up.

"I've never had a horse like this. I'm not trying to blow him up, I'm just saying how it is. For a horse by Galileo to be doing what he's doing, we've never had that before.

"The reason we were excited before the Guineas (was that) his lead horse was Oklahoma City and he was treating him with contempt every day.

"Even in March and April, he was doing half-speeds with horses he shouldn't have been able to go with.

"When Frankie (Dettori) was over last year, he jumped off the ground after he sat on him."

It has been a slow start to the season for Ballydoyle team, with O'Brien revealing some of his string were under the weather earlier in the year.

For that reason, he is expecting Australia to improve considerably for his comeback run at Newmarket.

"At the start of the year we were struggling a bit, it hasn't been straightforward. We had a bit of a cough around for a long time. I think it's more or less gone now, we're happy with where the horses are now. We've trained our way gently through it," said the trainer.

"If the horses are going to a Classic, they have to run in a prep race. We're not complaining about it, everyone gets a run of it sometimes.

"Australia was sick six weeks before the Guineas - he was probably the first horse to show signs of the cough and then it spread like wildfire through the yard."