News from Epsom Downs on the eve of the 2018 Investec Derby Festival

INVESTEC DERBY FESTIVAL 2018

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

EPSOM DOWNS, THURSDAY, MAY 31

 

THE 12 RUNNERS FOR THE 2018 INVESTEC DERBY

 

1 (0) Dee Ex Bee Mark Johnston 9st 0lb Silvestre De Sousa

 

2 (0) Delano Roosevelt (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

3 (0) Hazapour (IRE) D. K. Weld, Ireland 9st 0lb Frankie Dettori

 

4 (0) Kew Gardens (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

5 (0) Knight To Behold (IRE) Harry Dunlop 9st 0lb Richard Kingscote

 

6 (0) Masar (IRE) Charlie Appleby 9st 0lb William Buick

 

7 (0) Roaring Lion (USA) John Gosden 9st 0lb Oisin Murphy

 

8 (0) Saxon Warrior (JPN) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

9 (0) Sevenna Star (IRE) John Gosden 9st 0lb Robert Havlin

 

10 (0) The Pentagon (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

11 (0) Young Rascal (FR) William Haggas 9st 0lb James Doyle

 

12 (0) Zabriskie (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

The deadline for declaration of jockeys is 1.00pm today

 SOFT GOING AT EPSOM DOWNS

 

The going remains Soft.

 

The GoingStick reading at 7am came to 5.7 overall. Home Straight – Stands’ side 5.5, Far side 5.0.

 

(Yesterday, Thursday, May 30 at 7am, the GoingStick readings came to 5.5 overall. Home Straight – Stands side 5.3, Far side 5.0).

 

Stalls tomorrow

6f – Outside

1m 4f – Centre

Remainder – Inside

 

Rail tomorrow         

The inner rail is dolled out by about five yards from the mile post to the winning post so as fresh ground can be provided on Saturday, Investec Derby Day

 

The distances are changed as follows;

6f +8y

7f +10y

All races 1m+ +12y

There was 21mm of rain on Tuesday, while Wednesday was dry.

 

Forecast

Further showers forecast during today Thursday – 5mm possible during morning then risk of showers afternoon.

 

Friday – Investec Ladies’ Day – mainly dry.

 

INVESTEC DERBY DRAW LIVE AT 11.00AM, CONDUCTED BY GEOFF LEWIS AND JOHN REID

 

The draw for the Investec Derby will take the form of a live ceremony for the first time in 2018. The draw will be broadcast live by Racing UK – it will also be live streamed on Facebook and Twitter by Epsom Downs Racecourse and Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.

 

Taking place at 11.00am in the weighing room, the draw will be conducted by two Investec Derby-winning jockeys – Geoff Lewis and John Reid.

 

Geoff Lewis was born in Wales on December 21, 1935. He became an Epsom man through and through, serving his apprenticeship with Ron Smyth in the town.

 

The horse Lewis will forever be associated with is the great Mill Reef, the outstanding Investec Derby winner in 1971. Owned by American Paul Mellon and trained at Kingsclere by Ian Balding, the son of Never Bend followed up his Epsom success by taking the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, France. As a four-year-old, Mill Reef returned to Epsom Downs to win the 1972 Investec Coronation Cup.

 

Lewis rode five Classic winners in total, also taking the Investec Oaks with Altesse Royale (1971) and Mysterious (1973), plus the 1,000 Guineas aboard Mysterious (1973) and 2,000 Guineas with Right Tack (1969). In addition to Mill Reef (1972), he also won the Coronation Cup on Lupe (1971).

 

After retiring from the saddle in 1979, he successfully turned his hand to training. From his base at Thirty Acre Barn in Epsom (now home to rookie trainer Adam West), his best horse was the outstanding sprinter Lake Coniston, who won the 1995 July Cup at Newmarket. He came closest to saddling the Investec Derby winner with Silver Wisp – third to Dr Devious in 1992.

 

Dr Devious was partnered to victory in 1992 by John Reid. Born in Northern Ireland on August 5, 1955, Reid rode over 2,500 winners during his career, which included 49 G1 successes.

 

In addition to his Investec Derby victory on Dr Devious, he also enjoyed Classic victories in the 1,000 Guineas aboard On The House (1982) and Las Meninas (1994), plus the St Leger with Nedawi (1998). He twice rode the winner of Ascot’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Ile de Bourbon (1978) and Swain (1997), while he enjoyed victory in France’s best race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, on Tony Bin (1988).

 

Award an MBE for services to racing in 1995, Reid served as joint-president of the Professional Jockeys’ Association for eight years. Since retiring as a jockey in 2001, he has worked as pundit on television and also acted as a bloodstock consultant and racing manager.

 

The draw for the 2018 Investec Derby

 

1 (6) Dee Ex Bee Mark Johnston 9st 0lb Silvestre De Sousa

 

2 (4) Delano Roosevelt (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

3 (3) Hazapour (IRE) D. K. Weld, Ireland 9st 0lb Frankie Dettori

 

4 (12) Kew Gardens (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

5 (2) Knight To Behold (IRE) Harry Dunlop 9st 0lb Richard Kingscote

 

6 (10) Masar (IRE) Charlie Appleby 9st 0lb William Buick

 

7 (5) Roaring Lion (USA) John Gosden 9st 0lb Oisin Murphy

 

8 (1) Saxon Warrior (JPN) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

9 (7) Sevenna Star (IRE) John Gosden 9st 0lb Robert Havlin

 

10 (11) The Pentagon (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

11 (9) Young Rascal (FR) William Haggas 9st 0lb James Doyle

 

12 (8) Zabriskie (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb

 

The deadline for declaration of jockeys is 1.00pm today


 

INVESTEC DERBY FESTIVAL 2018

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

EPSOM DOWNS, THURSDAY, MAY 31

 

Declared runners for all seven races on Investec Derby Day at Epsom Downs – Saturday, June 2, 2018


 

2.00pm Investec Private Banking Handicap (0-105) 1m 2f 17y £50,000 (3yo)

1 (8) Court House (IRE) John Gosden 9st 7lb Robert Havlin

2 (2) Connect (Hood) Clive Cox 9st 3lb Adam Kirby

3 (7) Poet’s Prince Mark Johnston 8st 12lb Joe Fanning

4 (10) Book of Dreams (IRE) Mark Johnston 8st 8lb Silvestre De Sousa

5 (11) Ship of The Fen Martyn Meade 8st 4lb John Egan

6 (3) Indomeneo Richard Fahey 8st 2lb Paddy Mathers

7 (6) Macaque (Hood) Andrew Balding 8st 2lb Martin Dwyer

8 (1) Westbrook Bertie Mick Channon 8st 0lb James Sullivan

9 (5) Corazon Espinado (IRE) Simon Dow 8st 0lb Nicky Mackay

10 (9) Shuhood (IRE) Ian Williams 8st 0lb Gabriele Malune (5)

11 (4) George (IRE) Sylvester Kirk 8st 0lb Hollie Doyle

 

2.35pm Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Investec) (Group 3) 1m 113y £90,000 (3yo+)

1 (6) Diaphora (GER) Markus Klug, Germany 9st 6lb William Buick

2 (4) Lincoln Rocks David O’Meara 9st 6lb Daniel Tudhope

3 (1) Shenanigans (IRE) Roger Varian 9st 6lb Ryan Moore

4 (5) Soul Silver (IRE) David Simcock 9st 6lb Oisin Murphy

5 (2) Stage Name (Tongue Strap) Hugo Palmer 9st 6lb Silvestre De Sousa

6 (8) Wilamina (IRE) Martyn Meade 9st 6lb Frankie Dettori

7 (7) Anna Nerium Richard Hannon 8st 11lb Tom Marquand

8 (3) Dance Diva Richard Fahey 8st 8lb Joe Fanning

 

3.10pm Investec Diomed Stakes (Group 3) 1m 113y £90,000 (3yo+)

1 (5) Arod (IRE) David Simcock 9st 6lb Oisin Murphy

2 (2) Breton Rock (IRE) David Simcock 9st 6lb Ryan Moore

3 (1) Century Dream (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Simon Crisford 9st 6lb William Buick

4 (4) Crazy Horse George Baker 9st 6lb Trevor Whelan

5 (7) Gabrial (IRE) Richard Fahey 9st 6lb Frankie Dettori

6 (8) Love Dreams (IRE) (Blinkers) Mark Johnston 9st 6lb Silvestre De Sousa

7 (6) Sovereign Debt (IRE) Ruth Carr 9st 6lb James Sullivan

8 (3) True Valour (IRE) J. P. Murtagh, Ireland 9st 6lb Adam Kirby

 

3.45pm Investec Corporate Banking ‘Dash’ Handicap 5f £100,000 (3yo+)

1 (10) Duke of Firenze David C. Griffiths 9st 10lb David Allan

2 (2) Caspian Prince (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Michael Appleby 9st 9lb Adam Kirby

3 (11) Equimou Robert Eddery 9st 3lb Robert Winston

4 (4) Edward Lewis David O’Meara 9st 1lb Daniel Tudhope

5 (14) Blue de Vega (GER) (Sheepskin C/P) Robert Cowell 8st 13lb Oisin Murphy

6 (3) Desert Law (IRE) Paul Midgley 8st 12lb Luke Morris

7 (12) Pettochside John Bridger 8st 12lb Hollie Doyle

8 (9) Boom The Groom (IRE) Tony Carroll 8st 10lb Silvestre De Sousa

9 (5) Tarboosh Paul Midgley 8st 9lb Cam Hardie

10 (7) Storm Over (IRE) Robert Cowell 8st 8lb Nicky Mackay

11 (19) Dark Shot Scott Dixon 8st 5lb Jamie Gormley (5)

12 (20) Harry Hurricane George Baker 8st 5lb Harry Bentley

13 (1) Just That Lord Michael Attwater 8st 2lb John Egan

14 (15) Verne Castle (Hood) Michael Wigham 8st 1lb Hayley Turner

15 (17) Super Julius (Visor) Eve Johnson Houghton 8st 0lb Gabriele Malune (5)

16 (16) Tanasoq (IRE) Paul Midgley 8st 0lb (7lb ex) James Sullivan

17 (8) Lucky Beggar (IRE) (Hood) David C. Griffiths 8st 0lb Paolo Sirigu

18 (13) Bahamian Sunrise (Visor) John Gallagher 8st 0lb Paddy Mathers

19 (6) Shamshon (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Stuart Williams 8st 0lb Raul Da Silva

20 (18) Aleef (IRE) (Tongue Strap) David O’Meara 8st 0lb Andrew Breslin (7)

 

4.30pm Investec Derby (Group 1) 1m 4f 6y £1,500,000 (3yo)

1 (6) Dee Ex Bee Mark Johnston 9st 0lb Silvestre De Sousa

2 (4) Delano Roosevelt (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Seamie Heffernan

3 (3) Hazapour (IRE) D. K. Weld, Ireland 9st 0lb Frankie Dettori

4 (12) Kew Gardens (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Donnacha O’Brien

5 (2) Knight To Behold (IRE) Harry Dunlop 9st 0lb Richard Kingscote

6 (10) Masar (IRE) Charlie Appleby 9st 0lb William Buick

7 (5) Roaring Lion (USA) John Gosden 9st 0lb Oisin Murphy

8 (1) Saxon Warrior (JPN) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Ryan Moore

9 (7) Sevenna Star (IRE) John Gosden 9st 0lb Robert Havlin

10 (11) The Pentagon (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Wayne Lordan

11 (9) Young Rascal (FR) William Haggas 9st 0lb James Doyle

12 (8) Zabriskie (IRE) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Padraig Beggy

 

5.15pm Investec Out Of The Ordinary Handicap (86-105) 1m 4f 6y £50,000

1 (15) Great Hall Mick Quinn 9st 7lb Fran Berry

2 (7) Soldier In Action (FR) Mark Johnston 9st 6lb James Doyle

3 (19) Grandee (IRE) David O’Meara 9st 5lb Daniel Tudhope

4 (18) Across The Stars (IRE) Richard Hannon 9st 3lb Ryan Moore

5 (17) Eddystone Rock (IRE) John Best 9st 2lb Robert Havlin

6 (6) Pacify Ralph Beckett 8st 13lb Harry Bentley

7 (1) Mutamaded (IRE) Ruth Carr 8st 12lb James Sullivan

8 (13) Twin Star (IRE) Andrew Balding 8st 12lb Oisin Murphy

9 (14) Reshoun (FR) Ian Williams 8st 11lb William Buick

10 (10) Star of The East (IRE) Mark Johnston 8st 10lb Joe Fanning

11 (3) Melting Dew Sir Michael Stoute 8st 8lb David Probert

12 (5) Grand Inquisitor (Sheepskin C/P) Ian Williams 8st 7lb Joey Haynes

13 (12) Maquisard (FR) Gary Moore 8st 5lb Paddy Mathers

14 (2) Golden Wolf (IRE) Richard Hughes 8st 4lb Wayne Lordan

15 (9) Dash of Spice David Elsworth 8st 4lb Silvestre De Sousa

16 (8) Oden (Sheepskin C/P) Nick Gifford 8st 2lb Hollie Doyle

17 (11) Lorelina Andrew Balding 8st 2lb Hayley Turner

18 (4) Whinging Willie (IRE) (Visor) Gary Moore 8st 2lb Noel Garbutt (3)

19 (16) Barwick George Baker 8st 2lb Nicky Mackay

 

5.50pm Investec Asset Management Handicap (For The Tokyo Trophy) (86-105) 6f 3y £50,000 (4yo+)                      

1 (10) Teruntum Star (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Kevin Ryan 9st 7lb Kevin Stott

2 (2) Al Qahwa (IRE) David O’Meara 9st 4lb Daniel Tudhope

3 (6) Shanghai Glory (IRE) Charles Hills 9st 3lb Oisin Murphy

4 (7) Brian The Snail (IRE) Richard Fahey 9st 1lb William Buick

5 (12) Watchable (Sheepskin C/P) David O’Meara 8st 13lb Harry Bentley

6 (13) Reputation (IRE) (Visor) John Quinn 8st 12lb Jason Hart

7 (8) Quench Dolly John Gallagher 8st 10lb Joey Haynes

8 (14) Compas Scoobie (Hood, Visor, Tongue Strap) Stuart Williams 8st 9lb John Egan

9 (4) Aces (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Ian Williams 8st 7lb Silvestre De Sousa

10 (1) Boy In The Bar (Visor) Ian Williams 8st 7lb Raul Da Silva

11 (11) George Dryden (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Charlie Wallis 8st 7lb Gabriele Malune (5)

12 (15) Ashpan Sam (Sheepskin C/P) David Drinkwater 8st 6lb James Sullivan

13 (16) Holiday Magic (IRE) Michael Easterby 8st 5lb Hayley Turner

14 (5) Russian Realm Paul Midgley 8st 3lb Cam Hardie

15 (3) Manshood (IRE) (Blinkers) Paul Midgley 8st 2lb

16 (9) Tavener (Sheepskin C/P) David C. Griffiths 8st 2lb Paddy Mathers

 

Eliminations: Ebitda, Pearl Acclaim (IRE), Sans Souci Bay, Samovar


 GEOFF LEWIS REMEMBERS MILL REEF

 

The draw for the Investec Derby took the form of a live ceremony for the first time today at Epsom Downs, broadcast live by Racing UK and live-streamed on Facebook and Twitter by Epsom Downs Racecourse and Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.

 

The draw was conducted by two Investec Derby-winning jockeys – Geoff Lewis, who rode Mill Reef to victory in 1971, and John Reid, successful aboard Dr Devious in 1992.

 

Lewis, 82, has spent most of his lifetime in Epsom. He became an apprentice to trainer Ron Smyth in the town at the age of 15, having had his first glimpse of the Derby in 1950.

 

“Two friends and I got a bus from Shepherd’s Bush to Malden, and ended up walking miles to Epsom,” he recalled. “I couldn’t see a thing and this big fella ended up putting me on his shoulders. Rae Johnstone on the French horse (Galcador) beat Harry Carr a neck on the favourite (Prince Simon).”

 

Lewis rode his first winner at Epsom Downs, for Smyth, in April 1953 on a horse called Eastern Imp.

 

He partnered five Classic winners in total, including the Investec Oaks with Altesse Royale in 1971 and 1973, but the victory for which he will always be remembered was that of the Ian Balding-trained Mill Reef in the 21-runner 1971 Derby.

 

Lewis said: “A few of the best people rang me before the race and said, ‘Are you sure he will stay?’ I said, ‘Look, if he can work on the gallops we’ve got [at Kingsclere], there’s no doubt he will here [at Epsom Downs].

 

“In the early stages I dropped in behind, and found myself behind the one horse I didn’t want to have in front of me. But he took me to the five-furlong pole. Once we were over the road, off we went. He had so much speed.”

 

Lewis pulled off the Epsom Downs G1 treble in 1971, winning the Investec Derby on Mill Reef, the Investec Oaks aboard Altesse Royale and the Coronation Cup with Lupe. He trained successfully in Epsom, at Thirty Acre Barn, for 20 years (1979-1999).

 

‘I WAS VERY CONFIDENT’: JOHN REID ON 1992 INVESTEC DERBY WINNER DR DEVIOUS

 

This morning’s Investec Derby draw – which took the form of a live ceremony for the first time today at Epsom Downs – was conducted by a pair of Investec Derby-winning jockeys: John Reid, successful aboard Dr Devious in 1992, and Geoff Lewis, who rode Mill Reef to victory in 1971.

 

John Reid, 63, has vivid memories of his win in the world’s most famous Flat race.

 

“It was an amazing story – Dr Devious was sold to race in the Kentucky Derby and to stay there [in the USA],” remembered Reid.  “Unfortunately he ran pretty keen out there, the jockey couldn’t get him settled and he ran himself into the ground. The owners [Sidney and Jenny Craig] complained to [Dr Devious’s trainer] Peter Chapple-Hyam about the horse they’d been sold and he said, ‘Send him back’, which they did.

 

“I didn’t even know he was back when Peter rang me up to ask me to ride him – I thought he had gone for good. I hadn’t even ridden for Peter at that stage – it was my very first ride for him. After riding work on ‘the Doctor’ I was very confident. The horse looked fantastic – you couldn’t believe he had ever run in the Kentucky Derby – and after working at Manton [where Chapple-Hyam trained] on the very steep gallops – he ran out over the top of them – I was confident.

 

“Early in the race he was again a little bit keen for the first furlong and a half and I was just beginning to get worried that he wasn’t going to let me switch him off, then he did switch off and from then on it was easy peasy. I was taking it for granted that he would stay.”

 

Chapple-Hyam had trained Rodrigo De Triano to win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket a month earlier with Lester Piggott in the saddle. The horse started the 13/2 favourite for the Derby, but could only finish ninth behind his stable-companion.

 

Reid said: “After a work morning when I rode ‘the Doctor’ and Lester rode Rodrigo, he and Peter knew Rodrigo wouldn’t stay, but the pressure was on for him to run. Lester did ask Peter if he could get off Rodrigo and ride the Doctor, but Peter said, ‘No, you stay where you are!’”

 

Dr Devious beat St Jovite by two lengths at odds of 8/1, although the Jim Bolger-trained colt reversed the form in the Irish Derby.

 

  

GOING CHANGE

 

At 5.20pm on the eve of the Investec Derby Festival (Thursday, 31 May), Epsom Downs Clerk of the Course Andrew Cooper changed the official going to Soft, Good to Soft in places.

 

Previously, the official going description was Soft.

 

He said: “It’s been a dry day – there’s been the odd spit-spot of rain but nothing measurable – and I think the last mile of the course is soft, whereas the first four furlongs are on the better side, and I think there is enough to call it Soft, Good to Soft in places.

 

“There is still a bit of uncertainty about rainfall – there’s a little bit in the air now; there seem to be some sharpish showers to the south of Epsom and we’ve lived a charmed life thus far today.

 

“I think we are going to be at risk of a shower this evening – I don’t think we are out of the woods until tomorrow, and there’s still a risk then.

 

“The course looks in great nick overall; we’re very pleased with it, particularly considering the spring we have had and a difficult build-up.”

 

SAXON VULNERABLE TO THE POWER OF ONE

 

Saxon Warrior is the 11/10 favourite for Saturday’s Investec Derby with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, after a final field of 12 was declared this morning.

 

The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt, who was an impressive winner of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last time out, had been the odds-on favourite prior to the final declaration stage but this morning’s draw, which was screened live on Racing UK and Epsom’s Facebook Live page for the first time, was not kind to the favourite, who will be berthed in stall one.

 

Only three horses have won the Investec Derby from the inside gate (Blakeney 1969, Roberto 1972 and Oath 1999) since starting stalls were introduced in 1967 and no horse has won from stall one in any 12 furlong race at Epsom since 2000.

 

The weight of these statistics alone has been enough for Unibet to push Saxon Warrior out to odds-against for the first time since his taking QIPCO 2000 Guineas success at Newmarket and the official betting partner is expecting to see opposition to the favourite in the run-up to the premier Classic.

 

Runaway Dante winner Roaring Lion is next in the market at 15/2, with Chester Vase victor Young Rascal, who sports the colours of Investec Managing Director Bernard Kantor, is an 8/1 chance.

 

Last year’s winning trainer O’Brien (successful with Wings Of Eagles 12 months ago) is responsible for five of the 12-strong field, with Delano Roosevelt (16/1), The Pentagon (22/1), Kew Gardens (33/1) and Zabriske (66/1) making up the quintet.

 

O’Brien also saddles five in tomorrow’s Investec Oaks, with the Ryan Moore-ridden Magic Wand the 9/2 second favourite behind 5/2 market leader Wild Illusion, owned by Godolphin.

 

Forever Together (11/2), Bye Bye Baby (6/1), I Can Fly (12/1) and Flattering (22/1) complete his Investec Oaks contingent.

 

 

 

Investec Derby – Unibet bet: 11/10 Saxon Warrior; 15/2 Roaring Lion; 8/1 Young Rascal; 9/1 Hazapour; 16/1 Delano Roosevelt; 18/1 Dee Ex Bee; 20/1 Masar; 22/1 Knight To Behold, 22/1 The Pentagon; 25/1 Sevenna Star; 33/1 Kew Gardens; 66/1 Zabriske.

 

1/5 1-2-3

 

Investec Oaks – Unibet bet: 5/2 Wild Illusion; 9/2 Magic Wand; 11/2 Forever Together; 6/1 Bye Bye Baby; 7/1 Perfect Clarity; 10/1 Give And Take; 12/1 I Can Fly; 18/1 Ejtyah; 22/1 Flattering.

 

1/5 1-2-3

 

Investec Coronation Cup – Unibet bet: 1/3 Cracksman; 6/1 Hawkbill; 7/1 Idaho; 25/1 Yucatan; 33/1 Windstoss; 50/1 Salouen.

 

¼ 1-2

SAXON WARRIOR READY FOR BATTLE IN INVESTEC DERBY

 

A field of 12 horses has been declared to run in the 2018 £1.5 million Investec Derby, Britain’s premier Classic and richest race over a mile and a half at Epsom Downs on Investec Derby Day (4.30pm), Saturday, June 2.

 

Saxon Warrior, pushed out to 11/10 favourite this morning by Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, heads five contenders for Britain and Ireland’s champion Flat trainer, Aidan O’Brien.

 

The Japanese-bred Deep Impact colt is unbeaten in four starts and returned to action this year with a decisive success in the first British Classic of the season, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket on May 5.

 

The Ryan Moore-ridden Saxon Warrior bids to become the third horse this century to complete the QIPCO 2000 Guineas/Investec Derby double after Sea The Stars (2009) and Camelot (2012) and 38th in total.

 

O’Brien has won the Investec Derby on six occasions, courtesy of Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014) and Wings Of Eagles (2017). He will become the joint winning-most trainer in the Classic’s 239th renewal alongside Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling, were he to succeed again this year.

 

Saxon Warrior was drawn in stall one at today’s Investec Derby Draw hosted by Nick Luck and featuring Investec Derby winning jockeys Geoff Lewis (Mill Reef, 1971) and John Reid (Dr Devious, 1992). Three horses have won the Investec Derby from the inside berth (Blakeney 1969, Roberto 1972 and Oath 1999) since starting stalls were introduced in 1967.

 

O’Brien’s charge is set to be joined by stable companions Delano Roosevelt (Seamie Heffernan, 12/1, 4) and The Pentagon (Wayne Lordan, 20/1, 11), who finished second and third to the Dermot Weld-trained Hazapour (Frankie Dettori, 10/1, 3), in the G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 13. Hazapour is from the same family as 2016 victor Harzand, who was also owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Weld.

 

Kew Gardens (Donnacha O’Brien, 33/1, 11), second in the Listed Lingfield Derby Trial to the Harry Dunlop-trained Knight To Behold (Richard Kingscote, 20/1, 2) and Dante Stakes third Zabriskie (66/1, 8) complete the master of Ballydoyle’s quintet. Zabriskie will be ridden by Padraig Beggy, who captured the 2017 Investec Derby aboard 40/1 outsider Wings Of Eagles, his first attempt at the Classic.

 

Newmarket trainer John Gosden, is double-handed in this year’s Investec Derby as he seeks a third win in the premier Classic, following the successes of Benny The Dip (1997) and Golden Horn (2015). He saddles Roaring Lion (Oisin Murphy, 7/1, 5), a facile winner of the G2 Dante Stakes at York on May 17 and Sevenna Star (25/1, 7), who annexed the G3 bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 27, having bolted up in a 10-furlong maiden by 14 lengths on heavy ground at Windsor on April 16.

 

Owner Godolphin has yet to win the Investec Derby and this year saddles Masar (Charlie Appleby, William Buick, 20/1, 10), who finished third to Saxon Warrior in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, having previously annexed the Craven Stakes over the straight mile at Newmarket on April 19.

 

William Haggas, successful with Shaamit in 1996, is represented by G3 Chester Vase winner Young Rascal (James Doyle, 9/1, 9) in this year’s renewal, who is owned by Investec Managing Director Bernard Kantor. Dee Ex Bee (Mark Johnston, Silvestre De Sousa, 18/1, 6), a half-length second behind Young Rascal at Chester and a winner at Epsom Downs last season, completes the field of 12 for the 2018 Investec Derby.

 

Jockeys Robert Havlin (Sevenna Star) and Richard Kingscote (Knight To Behold) are having their first rides in the Investec Derby and will be presented with the special Derby cap ahead of the race.

 

Following today’s Investec Derby Draw, Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, reacted by pushing Saxon Warrior out to 11/10 favourite from 10/11.

 

Unibet spokesman Ed Nicholson revealed: “If there was one draw that Saxon Warrior was going to drift from, it was going to be stall one and we’ve now gone 11/10, the first time he’s been odds against since winning the 2000 Guineas.

 

“We should temper that by saying that there are only 12 runners, so it might not be the biggest hindrance.

 

“It’s been a funny market, he’s gone as short as 8/13 this week. We’ve seen plenty of bets for him since the 2000 Guineas including three bets of £10,000 at Evens – he is a very popular favourite.

 

“Hazapour has been extremely well backed throughout the week and is a 10/1 shot and our odds compilers think the draw has been very kind to him.

 

“Knight To Behold and The Pentagon have also attracted good support at bigger prices.”

 

Latest odds from Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival:

11/10 Saxon Warrior

15/2 Roaring Lion

8/1 Young Rascal

9/1 Hazapour

16/1 Delano Roosevelt

18/1 Dee Ex Bee

20/1 Masar

22/1 Knight To Behold & The Pentagon

25/1 Sevenna Star

33/1 Kew Gardens

66/1 Zabriskie

 

SOFT GROUND AT EPSOM AHEAD OF INVESTEC DERBY FESTIVAL

 

Andrew Cooper, Epsom’s Clerk of the Course, today reported that the ground remains SOFT at the Surrey venue ahead of the Investec Derby Festival, which begins tomorrow.

 

The track had 22mm of rain on Tuesday and more rain is forecast to hit the racecourse today.

 

Cooper said: “Tuesday was an odd day as we thought we had escaped the rain relatively lightly, but it really opened with intense showers in the middle of the afternoon which were non-stop for around two hours.

 

“We ended up measuring 22mm of rain that night when it finally eased off around midnight.

 

“Yesterday was a dry day, but it was overcast for most of it so the ground didn’t dry out that much.

 

“Today, we were forecasting and are at risk of showers. We’ve managed to avoid the rain so far this morning which seems to have petered out slightly when it got to the M25 – we’ve had nothing measurable here this morning.

 

“It is humid and it could kick off here at any point throughout the day, so we could see a shower at some point this afternoon.

 

“The forecast is reasonably encouraging for the weekend. There is a slight risk of a shower on Friday, but generally we are going to stay dry with most of the rain going to the northwest.

 

“It looks like we’re in a two-day window of pleasant and dry weather. I have no hesitation in leaving the ground at Soft currently, but it is approaching Good to Soft ground up until the last mile.

 

“If we had a dry day today, we wouldn’t be far from calling it Soft, Good to Soft in Places. The GoingStick reading was 5.7 this morning, it was 5.5 yesterday, so it has been drying slightly.

 

“I think it’s a fascinating Investec Derby on Saturda. We have 12 different horses who will be suited by different ground conditions.

 

“We also have interesting renewals of the Investec Oaks and the Investec Coronation Cup tomorrow. We are ready to go and fingers crossed we don’t see too much rain here today, as we will then be set fair for the weekend.”

 

EPSOM SUPREMO CAN’T WAIT FOR DERBY FESTIVAL

 

Phil White, Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, London, is in a bullish mood ahead of the Investec Derby Festival as racegoers prepare to flock in their droves to Epsom Downs for the Investec Derby Festival this weekend.

 

White, who will be in charge of his second Investec Derby Festival, is especially looking forward to Saturday’s Investec Derby, in which Saxon Warrior aims to become the first horse to land the 2,000 Guineas-Derby double since Camelot in 2012.

 

“Plans ahead of the Investec Derby Festival have gone well,” said White.

 

“We had beautiful sunshine last week so the site preparations have gone well but obviously this week we’ve had some significant downpours.

 

“I’ve got to say though that the team have got the place in great condition and we’re looking forward to a fantastic two days’ racing.

 

“I think the Investec Derby is going to be a fascinating race this year – there are some really strong contenders, headed by QIPCO 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior. It’s great to see the draw being done live this year for the first time, which was a collective idea between Jockey Club Racecourses, Investec and Racing UK. It’s a new thing for us and we’ll obviously continue to do it from hereon in.

 

“Tickets sales have gone very well. We’re ahead of last year quite considerably and we’ve seen interest in all the enclosures, which is really positive. The Queen’s Stand is sold out on both days and it’s looking like the Grandstand will sell out on Investec Derby Day as well.

 

“We’ve got a new initiative on The Hill as well this year. Poundland are no longer involved so we’ve now got ‘Horseplay On The Hill’ which is a Jockey Club Racecourses’ branded family concept and we’ve been working closely with the local schools so there’s plenty of activities for parents and children alike.

 

“We’ve also made improvements to the bars and seating areas which should ensure a better race day experience for racegoers in all our enclosures, as well as to our owners and trainers area. Lots of work has gone into this weekend and all the team here at Epsom are really looking forward to it.

 

“Investec are a fantastic partner and we’re delighted that they will be working with us until 2026. Having such a long-term deal means that we are able to plan so much more effectively with them and long may that continue.

 

“This is the 10th anniversary of their sponsorship of the Investec Derby and what an anniversary present it would be if Young Rascal could win for Bernard Kantor (Investec Managing Director and owner of the leading Investec Derby contender).”

 

 

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