A field of 16 is due to go to post for the 235th running of the Investec Derby (4pm), Britain’s richest race worth £1,380,000, at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, 7 June with Snow Sky the only absentee following the final declaration stage.
Australia, a fine third in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas, is the red-hot favourite, as he attempts to make history for Aidan O’Brien: no other trainer has won the Epsom Downs Classic three years in a row (he won it with Camelot in 2012 and Ruler Of The World last year).
O’Brien also runs Geoffrey Chaucer, Kingfisher and Orchestra.
Fellow Irish raiders Ebanoran (John Oxx) and Fascinating Rock (Dermot Weld) both have serious chances as well.
John Gosden runs the unbeaten Western Hymn and the supplemented Romsdal, while Roger Varian fields the impressive Racing Post Trophy winner, Kingston Hill.
Others to watch include Arod (Peter Chapple-Hyam) and True Story (Saeed bin Suroor) who were second and third in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York behind the subsequent French Derby winner, The Grey Gatsby.
Roger Varian commented on Kingston Hill (pictured, to be ridden by Andrea Atzeni):
“Kingston Hill looks very well and we haven’t had a hitch with him since the Guineas – I am anticipating plenty of improvement for that run.
“He has got a good head on him so he should handle the excitements of Derby Day.
“We took him for a school around Epsom during Breakfast With The Stars and that was a worthwhile exercise. Andrea rode him and he went over the undulations very smoothly.
“I am not doing a rain dance, we will just take the ground as it comes. But it is comforting to know that if a storm hits Epsom, we already know that Kingston Hill goes on very soft ground. The ground will not be any faster than Good whatever happens, which is fine.
“Like the weather, the draw is out of our hands so there is no point in worrying about him getting stall two. A mile and a half is a long way for them to sort themselves out and we will just have to hope that he gets a slice of luck at the right time.”
Peter Chapple-Hyam on Arod (to be ridden by Jamie Spencer):
“Arod has been in really good form since the Dante – we are really happy with him. We think that he has improved and he has definitely improved physically.
“He should enjoy the step up to a mile and a half, we think that is what he wants even though he has got a lot of speed. But you do need speed too – a horse has to travel well around Epsom.
“He would not want the ground too soft but he should handle the hullabaloo of Derby Day – I am sure that he will handle it a lot better than I will!”
John Oxx on Ebanroan (to be ridden by Declan McDonogh):
“Ebanoran has had a good preparation, thankfully we have had a clear run with him with no setbacks.
“He was a bit green on his last run [in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial] as it was only the third start of his life but overall we were delighted with him. We were very happy with the way he measured up at that level – it was another jump forward and showed a good deal of improvement from his previous run.
“As far as handling the track at Epsom is concerned, all these horses are still relatively new to the game and you can never be sure how they will react to different situations.
“When he wandered around in the Derrinstown [causing his subsequent disqualification from first place] it was not that he became unbalanced, it was just greenness. And there were some mitigating circumstances. There was a photographer standing at the top of a step ladder near the line and we think he swerved away from that.
“I don’t think the ground will be an issue for him but if it rains it will not be to his disadvantage. He certainly handles soft ground.
“The longer trip is a new test and Epsom is a very demanding track. You cannot be certain but he has so much stamina on the dam’s side of his pedigree that there must be a good chance that he will stay the extra distance.
“I can’t really make any comparisons with my two Derby winners [Sinndar and Sea The Stars] as it is too early – Ebanoran has not won a significant race yet. He is quite an idle worker at home, like Sinndar, so doesn’t give us too many clues about the extent of his ability.”
The Investec Derby is the second race in the Middle Distance division of the British Champions Series:
- Investec Coronation Cup (1½ miles, 4yo+), Epsom, Saturday 7 June
- Investec Derby (1½ miles, 3yo), Epsom, Saturday 7 June
- Prince of Wales’s Stakes (1¼ miles, 4yo+), Royal Ascot, Wednesday 18 June
- Coral-Eclipse (1¼ miles, 3yo+), Sandown Park, Saturday 5 July
- King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) (1½ miles, 3yo+), Ascot, Saturday 26 July
- Juddmonte International (1¼ miles, 3yo+), York, Wednesday 20 August
- QIPCO Champion Stakes (1¼ miles, 3yo+), Ascot, Saturday 18 October
TRAINER OF THE SERIES (AFTER 5 RACES)
(to be updated after the Investec Oaks)
|1 Richard Hannon||40|
|2= Andre Fabre||20|
|2= Kevin Ryan||20|
|2= Sir Michael Stoute||20|
|5= Andrew Balding||10|
|5= David Barron||10|
|5= Marco Botti||10|
|5= John Gosden||10|
|5= Aidan O’Brien||10|
|5= Olly Stevens||10|
JOCKEY OF THE SERIES (AFTER 5 RACES)
(to be updated after the Investec Oaks)
|1 Ryan Moore||40|
|2= Frankie Dettori||20|
|2= Kieren Fallon||20|
|2= Maxime Guyon||20|
|2= Oisin Murphy||20|
|6= Andrea Atzeni||10|
|6= Harry Bentley||10|
|6= James Doyle||10|
|6= Joseph O’Brien||10|
Points are awarded on a 20–10–5 basis to the jockeys and trainers of the first three horses in each QIPCO British Champions Series race. In the event of a tie, the number of winners (and, if necessary, second places) will be taken into account. The Jockey and Trainer of the Series will be presented with a specially commissioned trophy on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 18 October.
The upcoming QIPCO British Champions Series races are:
The Investec Oaks (In Memory of Sir Henry Cecil), Epsom Downs
Fillies & Mares
The Investec Coronation Cup, Epsom Downs
The Investec Derby, Epsom Downs
The Queen Anne Stakes, Royal Ascot
The King’s Stand Stakes, Royal Ascot
The St James’s Palace Stakes, Royal Ascot
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Royal Ascot
The Gold Cup, Royal Ascot
The Coronation Stakes, Royal Ascot
Fillies & Mares
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Royal Ascot
Photograph by Rachel Groom www.rachelgroomphotography.co.uk