Aidan O’Brien believes City Of Troy, sired by American Triple Crown winner Justify, could be the most talented Betfred Derby contender he has ever trained.

The master of Ballydoyle admits he is “dreaming again” of winning the greatest Flat race in the world for a record-extending 10th time, having saddled the likes of Galileo, Camelot, Ruler of the World, Australia and Auguste Rodin to victory in the Epsom Downs showpiece.

And despite City Of Troy’s disappointing seasonal debut in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, which saw him lose his unbeaten record when trailing home ninth of 11 runners on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile earlier this month, O’Brien remains upbeat.

Speaking during a media visit to his impressive training base organized by The Jockey Club, he said: “Everything has been good since the Guineas. We just accepted that all these things just happened and went wrong on the day and we’ve decided to stay with the plan.

“He’s done nothing since to make us change the plan. The plan was always to start with the Guineas and go on to The Derby and then go wherever after that and that’s where we still are.

“Sometimes it happens and obviously it happened in the Guineas… Sometimes things don’t work and really I would always say that it’s my responsibility to make sure it works and when it doesn’t work, well we’ve done our homework but maybe we didn’t do it all properly. That’s the way I would look at the Guineas.

“When he went down to the start he should have been relaxed but he went into the stalls and he was revved up. He wasn’t flustered but obviously his mind wasn’t in the right place, because he’s a very good natured horse as you can see – unusually good for a colt. He’s very calm and relaxed but it all just happened at the wrong few seconds.

“It will make it very interesting the next day. For us, I’m not sure we’ve ever sent a horse to The Derby with as much ability as this. If we can get him to come out of those gates and everything to work properly for him then we can have him in the right place.”

City Of Troy won three times over seven furlongs as a two-year-old, before his disappointing run over a mile in the first Classic of the season.

However, O’Brien has no concerns about stepping him up to a mile and a half in the Betfred Derby. He said: “I never thought any trip was a problem for him. You’re never sure until you do it but he has a big long stride and he’s usually very chilled and relaxed. It will be a very interesting race now.

“I suppose what he did last year – everything he was doing last year the statistics were adding up. His times, everything. He never disappointed us in any way.

“But we all know horseracing and we all know life – no one knows what’s going to happen in the next half hour. The Guineas just wasn’t meant to be. I feel like, myself, I hadn’t got him prepared properly, so what we would have learned in the Guineas will hopefully help us to prepare him properly for The Derby.

“He’s obviously by Justify, who won a Belmont and all the other races … one thing you cannot stop coming out in anything is pedigree so hopefully if he’s well we can have him in the right place…

“City Of Troy has an unbelievable mind. There is a lot of Galileo in him in that he gallops with his head very low and out with a very long stride for not a very big horse. He is very well balanced.

“We video all our horses and when he is in his box he is the most alert horse – every little thing affects him.

“There is a weight of expectancy with him. At the Guineas, everyone was there to see City Of Troy and I apologized afterwards because I felt I didn’t have him prepared properly and expected too much of him. It’s our job to have him prepared, to go to the races for Ryan (Moore, jockey) to sit on and the horse has to be in the right frame of mind and fit enough. I felt we let Ryan down – he wouldn’t ever say that because he never blames anyone except himself – but that is what I would have felt.

“The Guineas was a let-down because we were all expecting. It just went against us and we have to accept that, move on and try to get back where we hoped we would be.

“We have heart monitors, timing, weights, bloods and everything. When we are happy horses are in the right place mentally and physically, if all the other things add up you have a big chance. It’s hard to get all the ducks in a row and it has to be natural, you can’t force it.

“What you can’t measure is mind and determination and that is the most important thing – horse or human. Do they really want it?”

I think The Derby is the race that I and everybody most looks forward to. The build-up and on the day, everyone is just so fascinated about what is going to happen. There are contenders arriving from everywhere and it is everybody’s dream, whether a horse cost £2 million or £20,000.

O’Brien also ran the rule over some of his other Betfred Derby Festival contenders. He added: “Really the most important race every year is The Derby and then they decide what we’re going to run, so are we going to let City Of Troy run by himself or are they going to let something go with him?

“All the horses that are running in all the trials is for that purpose. This year we purposely weren’t too hard on them for their trials because in other years we might have won loads of trials and run bad in The Derby so this year we felt that we’d use the trials as trials. Even though they haven’t won, some have progressed so we have to just get a feel for where they are.

“We were very happy with Los Angeles yesterday. The horse that made the running – that was the way it was going to suit him. Maybe we should have sat a bit closer to him if it had been a stronger race but Wayne (Lordan, jockey) was very happy with the horse.

“He’s a big relaxed horse. We always thought he would step up big time when he went to a mile and a half and we were very happy with the way that he won so he’s definitely a possible.

“He’s going to progress big time. I don’t know if you saw him yesterday but he was carrying plenty too. He’s a big, burly horse. He has a big chance really.

“Capulet could go. There’s been a lot of interest in him from Hong Kong and all these places so it’s possible too. He was always a horse that was going to step up going to a mile and a quarter and we always thought he was going to step up even further if he went further. Ryan rode him positively.

“We went to the all-weather at Chelmsford. In case he was forward enough he would have gone to the Kentucky Derby but when we ran him he wasn’t forward enough and that’s why he went to Chester. Ryan was very happy with him. He’s got plenty of class, he’s lazy and finds plenty for pressure. He gave him a great ride too.

“Diego Velazquez is in both (the Betfred Derby and French Derby). The reason for going to France was the lads were thinking of going to the French Derby and that’s right-handed. We could have gone to the Dante with him but we felt he wouldn’t have the experience if we decided to go to France so that was his reason.

“We thought if we finished in the first four in France then he would run a massive race in the French Derby but he has an option because he’s still in The Derby at Epsom as well. The lads will make that call as well. Christophe (Soumillon) rode him and he said he’s going to win a Group race very quickly, this horse, so he was very impressed with him.”

The draw for the Derby is on May 30. Here are the entries remaining and below are Betfred early odds.

Ambiente Friendly (IRE) 3 The Gredley Family 9 2 James Fanshawe

Ancient Wisdom (FR) 3 Godolphin 9 2 Charlie Appleby

Bellum Justum (IRE) 3 King Power Racing Co Ltd 9 2 Andrew Balding

City of Troy (USA) 3 Mrs John Magnier,Mr M.Tabor & Mr D.Smith 9 2 Aidan O’Brien Ireland

Dallas Star (FR) 3 Amo Racing Limited 9 2 Adrian Murray Ireland

Dancing Gemini (IRE) 3 Fishdance Ltd 9 2 Roger Teal

Defiance (IRE) 3 Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Monet 9 2 Roger Varian

Deira Mile (IRE) 3 Green Team Racing 9 2 Owen Burrows

Diego Velazquez (IRE) 3 Smith,Magnier,Tabor,Westerberg,Brant 9 2 Aidan O’Brien Ireland

Euphoric 3 Smith,Magnier,Tabor,Westerberg,Brant 9 2 Aidan O’Brien Ireland

God’s Window 3 Cayton Park Stud Limited 9 2 John & Thady Gosden

Illinois (IRE) 3 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor 9 2 Aidan O’Brien Ireland

Kamboo (IRE) 3 Mr Abdulla Al Mansoori 9 2 Richard Hughes

Los Angeles (IRE) 3 Westerberg/Mrs J Magnier/M Tabor/D Smith 9 2 Aidan O’Brien Ireland

Macduff 3 Juddmonte 9 2 Ralph Beckett

Mr Hampstead (USA) 3 Amo Racing Limited 9 2 Dominic Ffrench Davis

Padesha (FR) 3 Amo Racing Limited 9 2 Dominic Ffrench Davis

Portland (IRE) 3 Mr M. Tabor, D. Smith & Mrs John Magnier 9 2 Aidan O’Brien Ireland

Sayedaty Sadaty (IRE) 3 Ahmad Al Shaikh 9 2 Andrew Balding

The Euphrates 3 Brant/Magnier/Tabor/Westerberg/Smith 9 2 Aidan O’Brien Ireland

Voyage 3 Mrs J. Wood 9 2 Richard Hannon


21 entries remain after May 21 scratchings deadline

8 Irish-trained

Latest Betfred odds:

7-4 City Of Troy

4-1 Ambiente Friendly

6-1 Los Angeles

14-1 Ancient Wisdom, Diego Velazquez

16-1 Macduff, Dancing Gemini

22-1 Bellum Justum

25-1 Illinois

33-1 Voyage

40-1 Dallas Star

50-1 Euphoric

66-1 Defiance, Deira Mile, Kamboo, Padesha, The Euphrates

100-1 Sayedaty Sadaty, Portland, God’s Window, Mr Hampstead