19 go forward in Investec Derby

A total of 19 horses have been declared to run in Saturday’s Investec Derby at Epsom Downs, which is the biggest field since 20 went to post in 2003 when Kris Kin (6/1) landed a huge gamble for Sir Michael Stoute and Kieren Fallon.


As expected, almost all those confirmed and added at the five-day stage for the 238th running of the premier Classic have stood their ground, with only absentee being the Aidan O’Brien-trained Finn McCool.


Even so, O’Brien saddles a total of six three-year-old colts in the Investec Derby, including Unibet’s 4/1 joint-favourite Cliffs Of Moher (Ryan Moore), who landed the Homeserve Dee Stakes over an extended 10 furlongs at Chester on his latest start.


The Irish champion Flat trainer was also responsible for the first three home in Chester’s other recognised Investec Derby trial – the MBNA Chester Vase – in the shape of Venice Beach (Donnacha O’Brien – 14/1), Wings Of Eagles (Padraig Beggy – 33/1) and The Anvil (Ana O’Brien – 50/1) and that trio have also been given the green light to line up on Saturday.


O’Brien’s sextet is completed by recent gamble Capri (Seamie Heffernan), who was as big as 25/1 at the beginning of this week but is now 12/1 with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial winner Douglas Macarthur (Colm O’Donaghue – 25/1).


This is not a record number of runners for O’Brien, who saddled eight in 2007 and he also had six in 2009.


Although he is currently three behind O’Brien’s total of five Investec Derby winners, Newmarket-based trainer John Gosden will be hoping Cracksman (Frankie Dettori) can emulate the stable’s Golden Horn (2015) and Benny The Dip (1997) by winning the Classic.


Currently the other 4/1 joint-favourite for the race with Unibet, the son of Frankel was favourite for the Dante Stakes at York before a deluge of rain forced his trainer to skip the trial. Cracksman, owned and bred like Golden Horn by Anthony Oppenheimer, had previously won the Investec Derby Trial at Epsom Downs in April and remains unbeaten – one of only two in the Classic with that status.


“It’s been a topsy-turvy Investec Derby betting market so far and the trials did more to muddy the waters than anything else,” said Unibet spokesman Ed Nicholson.


“We’ve not been knocked over on anything so far but the two runners that have come in for consistent support over the past few weeks are Cracksman and Eminent.


“Cracksman was well-supported at 25/1 ahead of his Investec Derby Trial win at Epsom while Eminent has been the subject of good money even though he was beaten in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.


“Cliffs Of Moher has been relatively friendless in the market though – which is strange for a supposed Aidan O’Brien first-string. Obviously, a lot can change between now and post time but you’d have to say that Cracksman looks much more likely to go off the Derby favourite at the moment.”


Cracksman inflicted a short-head defeat on the Mark Johnston-trained Permian (11/1) that day but the latter took full advantage of Cracksman’s absence in the Dante Stakes by recording a three-quarter length victory at York, a performance which encouraged owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum to fork out an extra £85,000 to supplement the horse for Saturday’s contest.


Nevertheless, Permian could repay that sum and more if he is first past the post on Saturday afternoon, as this year’s running of the Investec Derby is the richest-ever race run in Britain, with prize money of £1,625,000 up for grabs.


Gosden is responsible for a total of five horses in Saturday’s Investec Derby, including Crowned Eagle (Andrea Atzeni – 33/1), who won a Windsor handicap last time out and is a half-brother to last year’s Investec Derby fourth Wings Of Desire. Glencadam Glory (James Doyle – 33/1), the supplemented Khalidi (ridden by last year’s Investec Derby winning jockey Pat Smullen – 25/1) and Pealer (Silvestre De Sousa – 100/1) make up Gosden’s quintet. He has never had more than two Investec runners in a year previously.


Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, who sent out Lammtarra to Investec Derby success in 1995, his first season, saddles three in the Investec Derby at 4.30pm, including Dante runner-up Benbatl (25/1), who will be ridden by Oisin Murphy.


Bin Suroor also runs Best Solution (Pat Cosgrave – 12/1), who was the three and a quarter length winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial last time out, and the once-raced and unbeaten Dubai Thunder (14/1), the mount of Adam Kirby. The trainer had four runners in the 2000 Derby.


Champion jockey Jim Crowley has his second Investec Derby ride on the Martyn Meade-trained Eminent (7/1), who was last seen when finishing sixth in the Newmarket mile Classic, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, at Newmarket in early May, while Sylvester Kirk saddles Salouen (66/1), who will be ridden by Fran Berry.


Saturday’s 12-furlong Classic could have an interesting postscript if Rekindling (25/1) was to win the race, as his trainer, Joseph O’Brien, would become only the fifth person in history to both ride and train the winner of the Investec Derby, following Matt Stephenson, John Forth, Robert Sherwood and Harry Wragg.


O’Brien won the race twice as a jockey, on board Australia in 2014 and Camelot in 2012, both trained by his father, and Wayne Lordan takes the ride on Rekindling on Saturday afternoon.


Despite the BHA using their discretional powers to prevent apprentice Gina Mangan from taking the ride on maiden filly Diore Lia, which led owner-breeder Richard Aylward to threaten to take the filly out of the race last night, the rank 1000/1 outsider, trained by John Jenkins, has been given the go-ahead, with apprentice Paddy Pilley, who has ridden 34 winners to date in Britain as well as five in Australia last winter, on board.


Looking ahead to the first day of the Investec Derby Festival, Investec Ladies’ Day, tomorrow, June 2, Rhododendron is favourite for the G1 Investec Oaks, the fillies’ Classic, at a shade of odds-on as O’Brien looks to continue his stranglehold on the British and Irish Classics.


The master of Ballydoyle has saddled the winners of all four Classics that have been run in Britain and Ireland this season and Rhododendron is the 10/11 favourite to keep this winning sequence intact in the Investec Oaks tomorrow afternoon.


The Gosden-trained Enable is the 5/1 second favourite, with recent French Group One winner Sobetsu an 8/1 chance for Godolphin.


Brothers and stablemates Highland Reel and Idaho take each other on in tomorrow’s G1 Investec Coronation Cup but Unibet make the former their 13/8 favourite as O’Brien looks to win yet another Group One race.


Idaho, who finished third in last year’s Investec Derby, is a 5/1 shot and the pair are split in the market by the John Gosden-trained Journey, who was last seen when winning the Group One QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot last October.


Unibet are offering punters their stake back on every race at the Investec Derby Festival if their horse finishes second to the SP favourite.


Investec Derby – Unibet bet: 4/1 Cliffs Of Moher; 4/1 Cracksman; 7/1 Eminent; 11/1 Permian; 12/1 Best Solution; 12/1 Capri; 14/1 Dubai Thunder; 14/1 Venice Beach; 25/1 Benbatl; 25/1 Douglas Macarthur; 25/1 Khalidi; 25/1 Rekindling; 33/1 Crowded Eagle; 33/1 Glenmacadam Glory; 33/1 Wings Of Eagles; 50/1 The Anvil; 66/1 Salouen; 100/1 Pealer; 1000/1 Diore Lia.

¼ 1-2-3


Investec Oaks – Unibet bet: 10/11 Rhododendron; 5/1 Enable; 8/1 Sobetsu; 10/1 Coronet; 10/1 Natavia; 12/1 Alluringly; 12/1 Horseplay; 25/1 Isabel De Urbina; 33/1 Daddyslittledarling; 100/1 Pocketfullofdreams.

¼ 1-2-3


Investec Coronation Cup – Unibet bet: 13/8 Highland Reel; 7/2 Journey; 5/1 Idaho; 8/1 Hawkbill; 10/1 Frontiersman; 14/1 Prize Money; 14/1 US Army Ranger; 25/1 Red Verdon; 33/1 Air Pilot; 33/1 Elbereth.

¼ 1-2-3


Investec Derby: Winning Distance – Unibet bet: 6/4 between 1.5 and 3 lengths inclusive; 13/8 under 1.5 lengths; 9/4 over 3 lengths.


Investec Derby Festival: Aidan O’Brien specials – Unibet bet: 7/4 to train the winner of the Investec Derby; 5/1 to train the winner of Investec Derby & Investec Oaks; 12/1 to train the winner of the Investec Derby, Investec Oaks and the Investec Coronation Cup; 12/1 to train the 1-2 in the Investec Derby; 33/1 to train the 1-2-3 in the Investec Derby.


For further information on the Unibet odds, please contact Ed Nicholson, Head of Kindred Group Racing Communications & Sponsorship, on 07767 480274 or email Ed.Nicholson@kindredgroup.com


Good ground ahead of the Investec Derby Festival


The going at Epsom Downs ahead of the Investec Derby Festival remains:-




Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Epsom, said at 4.30pm: “I’m going to leave the going as Good overnight and reassess in the morning.


“It definitely started the day off as Good and we finished a 2.5mm watering programme this morning, which doesn’t sound a lot and it isn’t a lot but that’s what we thought we’d lose in the soil on a warm day like today.


“We’re expected to stay dry overnight, albeit a pleasantly warm night at around 16 degrees, and, while it’s Good now, the next step would be to call it Good, Good to Firm in places and that’s where we’re likely to get to next.


“It’s a warm, muggy day tomorrow, with temperatures due to get up to 26 degrees, but there is this risk of a thunderstorm. The Met Office have told us that the risk is to the whole south-east of England from around 1.00pm through to about 11.00pm so we’ll just have to wait and see if it materialises in this part of the country and react accordingly.


“There are various precautions we can put in place regarding crossing areas and the like but we just have to wait and see – in the end, it could be nothing.”


McPeek bullish about Darling’s Investec Oaks’ chance


American trainer Kenny McPeek is looking forward to saddling his first runner in tomorrow’s Investec Oaks courtesy of Daddys Lil Darling.


The three-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy finished a creditable second in the nine-furlong Longines Kentucky Oaks on dirt at Churchill Downs, USA, earlier this month and arrived in England last Thursday (May 25) ahead of a tilt at the 12-furlong fillies’ Classic on turf at Epsom Downs.


McPeek’s charge initially stayed at Jim Boyle’s yard in Epsom before moving to the racecourse stables and the 17-time Grade One winning trainer has been delighted with how the filly has settled into her new surroundings.


He said: “She arrived in England last week and I have been really happy with her. She did a nice gallop round the track on Friday and then went up to the Heath on Saturday for a bit of work. She has had a quiet routine which has included lots of trotting and walking round the parade ring.


“She is in great form and is ready for this. She’s been doing everything fantastically well and even before she came here, she did a great piece of work in America and is looking really big and strong. I couldn’t have her any better.”


The Normandy Farm-owned filly has only run once on turf when sixth in the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs on March 11, but McPeek has no concerns surrounding the surface or indeed the step up in trip to 12 furlongs.


He continued: “She should have no problem with the mile and a half distance. She was staying on nicely in the Kentucky Oaks last time as she was caught quite far back that day.


“She was continuing to come all the way to the line that day and she had to come through plenty of traffic so hopefully if they go a slightly slower pace early in this race; that should really suit her.


“We are trying to win a Group One event with her but there is just nothing in the States beyond a mile for her to run in so we’ve decided to come here.


“I’ve got her as ready as I can and, whilst she has only raced once on turf, I think she will handle it and hopefully the good ground should not be an issue.


“The one question mark is we have no idea how she will run up against some nice British fillies. You never know how much of a difference in class there is between the American fillies and the British but let’s put it this way, I’m not concerned about them. I think my filly has a major chance and she could surprise a few people.”


Daddys Lil Darling is priced at 33/1 with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.


Regarding the decision to send the US-bred filly to Epsom, McPeek remarked: “To have a runner in the Oaks or Derby at Epsom has been something I’ve always wanted to do.


“This filly has developed really well and got better with age and I’m just delighted we’ve been able to bring her over.”


The American handler has procured the services of top-class French jockey Olivier Peslier to ride the filly and he added: “Olivier is a great jockey and I will leave the riding plans up to him.


“I’ve got her as ready for this as I can so hopefully she runs well.”


About QIPCO British Champions Series


The QIPCO British Champions Series is designed to throw the spotlight on Britain’s best Flat races and will climax on 21 October 2017 with the richest fixture in British racing history, QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot.
The Series features 35 Flat races staged at ten of the UK’s leading racecourses: Ascot, Doncaster, Epsom Downs, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Newbury, Newmarket’s July Course, Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, Sandown Park and York.
It encompasses the top races at British racing’s key festivals, including the QIPCO Guineas Festival at Newmarket, the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom, Royal Ascot, the Newmarket July Festival, The Qatar Goodwood Festival, the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York and the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster.
The QIPCO British Champions Series comprises five easy-to-follow champion categories – Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Fillies & Mares.

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