SIXTEEN colts will bid for Classic glory in the Epsom Derby over a mile-and-a-half on Saturday. It follows Monday’s five-day confirmation stage. The total prize fund for Britain’s richest race now stands at £1,379,500. Wowzers! Here’s a pinstickers’ guide to this year’s race:
Romsdal (John Gosden): A fast-finishing nose second to Orchestra at Chester and currently around the 16/1 mark. Princess Haya would not have forked out £75,000 to supplement him if he did not have some semblance of a chance. Unless, of course, the Princess just fancies a day out…
Australia (Aidan O’Brien): Warm favourite despite reservations over his ability to handle possible soft ground. Solid 2,000 Guineas run and bred to get the trip. But if there is “soft” in the official ground description, I won’t be touching him with the proverbial bargepole.
Geoffrey Chaucer (Aidan O’Brien): A live second string for the Ballydoyle maestro. Third to Fascinating Rock and Ebanoran in the Derrinstown, when he was a bit unlucky. The vibes are strong from Ballydoyle with some rumours suggesting he recently beat Australia in a gallop. Interesting!
Orchestra (Aidan O’Brien): Chester Vase winner and another strong hand for O’Brien. Can he call the tune? I doubt it…
Kingfisher (Aidan O’Brien): Won the Dee Stakes at Chester and is a decent fourth third string to the Ballydoyle bow. Cannot totally rule him out. If any of his four are successful, O’Brien will become the first handler to send out three consecutive Investec Derby winners, following Camelot (2012) and Ruler Of The World (2013).
Ebanoran (John Oxx): In the words of ex-Match Of The Day commentator Barry Davies this one is “Interesting, very interesting”. Loved the turn of foot he showed at Leopardstown before he lost it in the stewards’ room. Excellent each-way value despite stamina doubts. And, of course, Oxx knows how to train a Derby winner.
Fascinating Rock (Dermot Weld): Beaten a head in the 10-furlong Derrinstown Trial but the placings were reversed after a stewards’ inquiry. Live contender and looks sure to stay.
Kingston Hill (Roger Varian): Well supported in the past few days and looks the best of the English-trained contenders. Last season’s Racing Post Trophy winner will love any juice in the ground and he handled the contours of Epsom very well at Breakfast With The Stars.
True Story (Saeed bin Suroor): I hope this fellow wins, simply because he is ridden by the wonderfully evergreen Kieren Fallon. What a story that would be. If Epsom dries out and they can keep a lid on his temperament during the preliminaries then he has a good chance if reproducing his Feilden Stakes victory. His third to The Great Gatsby in the Dante now looks decent form after the latter’s French Derby success.
Arod (Marco Botti): Third in the Dante and desperately needs the ground to stay dry. Jamie Spencer seems quietly confident but is he creating Arod for his own back?
Western Hymn (John Gosden): The son of High Chaparral is unbeaten in three starts and got the better of Impulsive Moment by a length and three quarters in the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 25. Scopey and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him.
Our Channel (William Haggas): Gained an entry when winning the Investec Derby Trial at Epsom on April 23. His trainer has a 100% record in the Investec Derby, having scored with his sole starter Shaamit back in 1996.
Pinzolo (Charlie Appleby): Not a forlorn hope but will have to improve.
Sudden Wonder (Charlie Appleby): Tattersalls Millions Trophy victor will have to sprout wings.
Red Galileo (Ed Dunlop): His sire won the Derby but I’ll eat my imaginary hat if he follows suit.
Impulsive Moment (Andrew Balding): Outsider and you would have to be drunk, never mind impulsive, to put money on him.
The heart says True Story and Fallon; the head says Ebanoran each way. Who do you fancy? Comments welcome below…