Jim Bolger confident Moonlight Magic can shine in Derby
Jim Bolger is convinced Investec Derby aspirant Moonlight Magic is the real deal.
The Godolphin-owned colt impressed in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown, with his trainer adamant Epsom could be made to measure.
Bolger, who won the race in 2008 with New Approach, said: "I rate him as a good Derby prospect and I would not swap him for anything else in the race.
"He has the looks, the demeanour, the balance and temperament to go with his pedigree.
"He is a beautifully-balanced horse so he should handle Epsom well.
"I thought when he won the Derrinstown he was as good a Derrinstown winner as (the Bolger-trained) St Jovite (1992).
"I could not be any happier than I am with him at the moment.
"He is very straightforward and is a lovely horse to work with.
"There are no holes in this fellow."
Aidan O'Brien has several strong contenders headed by US Army Ranger, who was only having his second race when touching off stablemate Port Douglas in the Chester Vase.
"We are very happy with him. We were happy with him at Chester," said the Ballydoyle handler.
"He has been working on the grass since his last run. He did a piece of work this morning and everything went well with it."
Ryan Moore will have the pick of the mounts and O'Brien reckons there is "a good chance" he will choose US Army Ranger.
"Ryan Moore has information about them all and he will make the decision," said the trainer.
"I am sure there is a good chance he will ride him, but I am not saying for definite that he will ride him."
Connections of fellow Derby contender Wings Of Desire expressed deep satisfaction by the manner in which he handed the track at Epsom on Tuesday morning.
The Dante Stakes winner, trained by John Gosden, galloped with two stablemates in the hands of Frankie Dettori as part of the track's 'Breakfast With The Stars' morning on the Downs.
Gosden said: "Frankie was very happy with the horse. He hadn't started any form of action until March and I am thrilled with how he has come on mentally.
"Frankie loved the way he came down the hill. He changed his legs down the straight and picked up when he wanted to.
"He has learnt a lot. He has got a cool mind on him and I like the way he was business-like.
"I just wanted to to go half-speed down the hill and not canter down it as they can get on the wrong leg.
"The horse did it nicely. We had not come here to do a flat-out piece of work, we came here to learn about the track."
Despite having won one of the key Epsom trials at York, Wings Of Desire has hardly taken a conventional route towards the Derby.
Unraced as a juvenile, the Pivotal colt warmed up for the Dante with an easy victory on the Wolverhampton all-weather in April.
Gosden said: "I think it is unusual what he has done.
"Most have an education at two years old - t hey might have worked and not raced, but in his case he missed it all.
"From coming off a canter in March to winning a Dante is freakish."
Godolphin will also be represented by the Andre Fabre-trained Cloth Of Stars, who worked 10 furlongs at Epsom alongside stablemate Foresee.
The Sea The Stars colt is on a hat-trick, and looked really sharp in the Prix Greffuhle at Saint-Cloud on May 8.
Jockey Mickael Barzalona, who teamed up with Fabre to win the 2011 Derby with Pour Moi, said: "Thisorse handled the track very well.
"He only did some easy work, but I was very pleased with the work.
"I think it was very important for the horse to come and have a look round as most of the tracks in France are really flat.
"He is very well-balanced. He always travels a little bit keenly. As you saw, he travelled keenly but he never had a bad action.
"He proved in France he is the best three-year-old over a mile and a quarter. I am sure he will stay a mile and a half.
"He is very fast out of the gates, which is a big help to get a good position early.
"Pour Moi had very strong acceleration, whereas Cloth Of Stars is more of a worker."
Sir Michael Stoute received a blow when Midterm was ruled out of the Derby with a stress fracture of the pelvis, but has two worthy chances in Ulysses and Across the Stars.
The Newmarket handler seems particularly keen on the former, who sauntered eight lengths clear in a Newbury maiden last Wednesday.
Stoute said of Ulysses: "I've always loved him. He ran with a lot of promise in a Newbury maiden as a two-year-old then he had a hiccup in January.
"We didn't have him fully fit at Leicester (second in April) but we needed to get moving.
"I've been really pleased since then and he could have not have done better than he did at Newbury. I am happy with his preparation at the moment.
"He is a beautifully-balanced, good-actioned horse and I think he should handle Epsom well.
"Across The Stars ran very well at Lingfield when things didn't go quite right. He is a lovely, big, improving horse.
"The owner is keen to run him and he will be in the line-up.
"Of the two, Ulysses is just more mature and ready for it at this stage and I certainly would be hopeful of his chance."