Johnston chasing another Investec Derby wildcard with Persian Moon

Saga’s Season Finale this Sunday, September 30, is the last fixture of 2018 at Epsom Downs Racecourse, with the highlight being the £20,000 Investec Conditions Stakes (2.30pm) for two-year-olds over an extended mile, which offers the winner a wildcard entry into the premier Classic, the G1 Investec Derby, staged on June 1, 2019.

Saga, the leading provider of products and services primarily tailored for customers over the age of 50 in the UK, are the title sponsor for the day. Gates open at noon with racing from 2pm.

The Investec Derby wildcard entry was offered for the first time at this fixture in 2017 and proved a tremendous success with the winner, the Mark Johnston-trained Dee Ex Bee, going on to finish a fine second to Godolphin’s Masar in the 2018 Investec Derby, Britain’s richest race at £1.5 million.

Yorkshire-based Johnston, Britain’s most successful trainer ever, is represented this year by the 100-rated Persian Moon (Silvestre de Sousa). The Makfi colt captured seven-furlong novice events at Yarmouth and York in July and stayed on in third behind Phoenix Of Spain in the G3 Acomb Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival on August 22.

Persian Moon was last seen out when fourth on heavy ground in the Listed 32Red Casino Ascendant Stakes over a mile at Haydock Park on September 8.

Sam Hoskins, Racing Manager for the two-year-old’s owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, revealed today: “Persian Moon is in really good form at home and has come out of his latest run at Haydock in good shape.

“He is a lovely horse and has had a great season. The ground was very soft at Haydock and that did not see him at his best. He will appreciate the better ground on Sunday and it would be great if he could get his head in front again.

“Silvestre de Sousa has won on him before and rides Epsom very well. There are only three runners, but it should be a very interesting race.

“We finished ahead of Pogo in the Acomb Stakes, so it will be interesting to see how we get on against the same rival on Sunday.

“The form of the Acomb has been boosted with the winner Phoenix Of Spain finishing second to Too Darn Hot in the G2 Champagne Stakes, whilst Broome, who finished behind us, has since finished second in a G2 event in Ireland.

“Mark has had this race in mind for quite a while for Persian Moon. He of course won the race last year with Dee Ex Bee who went on to finish a good second in the Investec Derby, so it would be great if we could emulate him!

“Persian Moon will definitely get further next year and this race is attractive with the wildcard entry into next year’s Derby.

“If he were to win on Sunday, he may be a horse that could come back for the Investec Derby Trial at the track next year (on April 24), but that is of course a long way off yet.”

German-bred Three Comets (Roger Varian/Andrea Atzeni), who already holds an Investec Derby entry, is the least experienced runner in the field with two starts. He shaped with promise when third on debut at Yarmouth before making short work of his rivals in a mile novice race at Hamilton on August 31.

The line-up is completed by Newmarket winner Pogo (Charlie Hills/Callum Shepherd), who posted a career-best on his latest start when third to Sangarius in the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster on September 14. He, like Persian Moon, does not currently have a 2019 Investec Derby entry.

Horses not entered for the 2019 Investec Derby can also gain a wildcard entry by winning the £50,000 Investec Derby Trial at the Investec Spring Meeting at Epsom Downs on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

338 yearling entries were made for the 2019 Investec Derby in December, 2017 and there are two further opportunities available for horses to be entered – at the second entry stage on April 2, 2019 and at the supplementary entry stage on Monday, May 25, 2019.

Elsewhere on Sunday’s attractive card, prolific runner Pour La Victoire (Tony Carroll), ridden by promising 5lb claimer Poppy Bridgwater, is chasing his sixth victory of the year in the £20,000 Saga Travel Handicap (3.35pm, eight runners) over seven furlongs. Two other female jockeys are also participating in the race – Hayley Turner (Sir Titan) and Josephine Gordon (Dance Teacher).

Lambourn trainer Owen Burrows, who has sent out nine winners from 21 runners over the last fortnight, bids to continue his fine run of form with top-weight Ganayem (Jim Crowley) in the £15,000 Saga Magazine Handicap (3.05pm, eight runners) over an extended mile.

Epsom Downs Racecourse’s scheduled fixture on September 13 was abandoned due to an infestation of chafer grubs, which has led to alterations to the race programme for Sunday’s card.

Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Epsom Downs, said today: “The chafer grub issue is contained within certain areas of the track, ruling out races over mile and a quarter and mile and a half at this fixture. We came up with three new races over a mile, seven furlongs, and six furlongs, which have filled well.

“The ground is currently Good, Good to Soft in places. We are expecting it to slowly dry in the run-up to Sunday when I would anticipate racing on Good ground.”

Did you like this? Share it:

© 2019 Racenews · One Bird Design · RSS Feed · Log in