Sir Dragonet headlines O’Brien’s round table as 13 bid for Investec Derby glory

A field of 13 is set to go to phost for the premier Classic, the £1.625-million G1 Investec Derby, which is staged at Epsom Downs Racecourse at 4.30pm on Saturday, June 1, the highlight of the Investec Derby Festival.
Ireland’s 21-times champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien is seeking a record-equalling seventh Investec Derby win as he launches a seven-pronged attack on the 240th running of the Investec Derby over 12 furlongs and six yards.
The master of Ballydoyle’s septet are spearheaded by Sir Dragonet, the mount of Ryan Moore, who was the supplemented for the Classic on Monday at a cost of £85,000. An impressive winner of the Chester Vase on May 8, having captured a Tipperary maiden on debut on April 25, Sir Dragonet is sired by 2012 Investec Derby victor Camelot and is the 11/4 favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
Sir Dragonet was drawn in stall 13 of 13 at this morning’s Investec Derby Draw, which was hosted by Racing TV’s Tom Stanley and featured Derby-winning jockeys Michael Hills and Willie Carson at Epsom Downs.
O’Brien’s other six Investec Derby contenders are headed by Broome (Donnacha O’Brien, 9/2, stall 8), who has captured two G3 Derby trials at Leopardstown so far this season. The three-year-old son of Australia, the 2014 Derby victor, backed up a convincing eight-length win in the Ballysax Stakes in April with a smooth victory in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial on May 12.
His team are completed by impressive Lingfield Listed Derby Trial victor Anthony Van Dyck (Seamie Heffernan, 15/2, stall 7), Dante Stakes fourth Japan (Wayne Lordan, 10/1, stall 11), Listed Dee stakes scorer Circus Maximus (Frankie Dettori, 20/1, stall 5), Chester Vase second Norway (Jamie Spencer, 40/1, stall 10) and Sovereign(100/1, stall 4), twice placed behind Broome in 2019, the mount of 2017 Investec Derby-winning jockey Padraig Beggy. The Ballydoyle handler’s seven runners in this year’s Investec Derby account for over half of the field and is his largest team since 2007 (eight runners).
Also supplemented on Monday was the Hughie Morrison-trained Telecaster (Oisin Murphy, 11/2). The three-year-old is a son of 2008 Investec Derby winner New Approach, whilst his dam Shirocco Star was second in the 2012 renewal of the Investec Oaks. Unraced at two, Telecaster landed the G2 Dante Stakes at York on May 16, his third start, having previously captured a 10-furlong maiden at Windsor on April 15. At today’s Investec Derby Draw, he was assigned to stall 2. No horse has ever won the Investec Derby from that berth, since starting stalls were introduced in 1967.
Telecaster chased home fellow Investec Derby entry Bangkok (9/1, stall 12), owned by King Power Racing, in a Doncaster maiden on March 30. Trained by Andrew Balding and ridden by Silvestre de Sousa, Bangkok went on to capture the G3 bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 26. He will break from the same stall his Derby-winning sire Australia broke from in the 2014 Investec Derby.
Veteran Irish trainer Kevin Prendergast saddles Madhmoon (Chris Hayes, 10/1, stall 6), who finished a creditable fourth to Magna Grecia in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 4. Owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, connections are optimistic that the son of Dawn Approach will stay the extra half-mile at Epsom.
The unexposed Humanitarian (66/1, stall 9) has won his last two starts, latterly capturing a 10-furlong novice event at Salisbury and he represents dual Derby winner John Gosden in Britain’s premier Classic. He is partnered by Rab Havlin.
Completing the field are Godolphin’s Line Of Duty (Charlie Appleby/James Doyle, 40/1, stall 1), a disappointing seventh in the Dante Stakes at York on his seasonal reappearance and Hiroshima (John Ryan/Brett Doyle, 250/1, stall 3), successful in a Southwell maiden on May 1.
Investec Derby – Unibet prices: 11/4 Sir Dragonet; 9/2 Broome; 11/2 Telecaster; 15/2 Anthony Van Dyck; 9/1 Bangkok; 10/1 Japan, Madhmoon; 20/1 Circus Maximus; 40/1 Line Of Duty, Norway; 66/1 Humanitarian; 100/1 Sovereign; 250/1 Hiroshima
Each-way ¼ 1,2,3
SIR DRAGONET REMAINS TOP OF THE TABLE WITH BOOKMAKERS
 
Ante-post favourite Sir Dragonet continues to head the market as the build-up to this year’s £1.625 million G1 Investec Derby gathers pace.
Britain’s premier Classic takes place at 4.30pm on Saturday, June 1 at Epsom Downs Racecourse and Sir Dragonet, one of seven runners in the 13-strong field for Ballydoyle handler Aidan O’Brien, is the 10/3 favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
The son of 2012 Investec Derby scorer Australia is unbeaten in two starts, both of which came this season. An emphatic winner of a Tipperary maiden in April, Sir Dragonet recorded a taking success in the Chester Vase, a recognised Derby trial, on his latest start on May 8. O’Brien’s charge was supplemented for Saturday’s contest at a cost of £85,000 earlier this week. Sir Dragonet was pushed out to 11/4 this morning from 5/2 after being drawn in stall 13 of 13 at the Investec Derby Draw, which took place at the track at 11.00am and featured Derby winning jockeys Michael Hills and Willie Carson.
The other notable mover after today’s draw was Telecaster, who like Sir Dragonet, was supplemented for £85,000 at Monday’s supplementary stage. Also unraced as a two-year-old, he chased home fellow Investec Derby entry Bangkok on his debut at Doncaster in March, before plundering a 10-furlong maiden at Windsor on April 15. The son of 2008 Investec Derby winner New Approach entered the reckoning for Britain’s richest race when capturing the G2 Dante stakes at York on May 16, defeating subsequent Irish 2000 Guineas second Too Darn Hot. He was assigned stall 2. No winner of the Investec Derby has ever emerged from that berth. Unibet pushed Telecaster out to 11/2 from 5/1 as a result.
Unibet’s spokesman Ed Nicholson commented: “Sir Dragonet and Telecaster have both been pushed out in the Investec Derby betting after this morning’s draw. Telecaster has been drawn in stall 2 and no has ever won the Investec Derby from that stall since starting stalls were introduced in 1967. We’ve pushed out Telecaster to 11/2 from 5/1.
“Sir Dragonet was drawn in stall 13 which again is a little bit of a negative, so we’ve gone 11/4 from 5/2.
“Sir Dragonet has been the one in the past few days who has been the focal point of the betting market. He was 25/1 and bigger before he won the Chester Vase. We immediately cut him to 7/1 after the race, but before the day was out, we trimmed his price again to 4/1. We have seen more money in the past few days since he has been supplemented and he is the biggest loser in the book.
“There has also been money for Broome who is the second-favourite for the race.”
Investec Derby – Unibet prices: 11/4 Sir Dragonet; 9/2 Broome; 11/2 Telecaster; 15/2 Anthony Van Dyck; 9/1 Bangkok; 10/1 Japan, Madhmoon; 20/1 Circus Maximus; 40/1 Line Of Duty, Norway; 66/1 Humanitarian; 100/1 Sovereign; 250/1 Hiroshima Each-way ¼ 1,2,3
 
COOPER TALKS GROUND, WEATHER & INVESTEC DERBY FESTIVAL
 
Andrew Cooper, Clerk of the Course
Andrew Cooper: “I don’t think that there is any doubt now that we are going to stay dry and gradually get warmer over the next couple of days.
“Today is forecast to be 21 degrees, around that sort of temperature, and yet it was actually only 13 degrees here yesterday. There has been a little bit more in the way of sunny spells here this morning than we were forecast – we thought it was going to be overcast and a bit clammy for most of the day. There have been slight breaks in it and I think that is going to continue throughout the day.
“Tomorrow I am thinking something similar, though it will probably be a degree or so warmer with a brightening afternoon picture. I think we may start off with a bit of cloud cover in the morning, which should then clear away, and that heralds what should be a clear start and hot day here on Saturday, with temperatures in the mid-20s.
“We are obviously mindful that the Investec Derby is run as the fifth of seven races at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon. Our preparations to a large degree work backwards from there, but that is not to say that we should overdo things for the first day of the meeting, which I don’t think we have.
“We have got to a situation where I would call the going here today, Good. We did our last bit of watering – which we always had in mind – on Wednesday morning. Then we had a bit of rain that amounted to about 3mm, and walking it both after the rain and first thing this morning, I would have no hesitation in calling it good Flat racing ground. But with that forecast, it is only going to dry over the next 48 hours.
“Watering is an option that is very much at the back of our minds. We can wait until after the last race tomorrow and see what conditions are like before making a decision. This is my 24th Derby and I think we have only irrigated on the Friday night for three of those. The first time we did it was in 2010, Workforce’s year. We will take stock of that and if we were to water, it would only be in the region of two and half to three millimetres, which is what you lose here on a warm day. It would be standing still from whatever point we reach at decision time tomorrow afternoon.
“We have saved a fresh strip of ground for the Saturday, which has been common practice here for many years. We save from basically the eight-furlong pole all the way to the winning line. It is basically four yards in width and adds 14 yards to the longer distance races tomorrow. That fresh would obviously hold its moisture that bit longer because it will not have been opened up through racing on Friday.”
Since 1967, 10 Derby winners have come from stall 10, whereas stall 11 has drawn a blank.
Cooper said: “You cannot deny the statistic, can you? But I think it is one of those staggering ones. You can understand why in a big field Derby that a low or high number has perhaps struggled, but for stall 10 to have as many winners as it’s had and 11 to have had none since stalls were introduced is inexplicable.
“I put the stalls for the mile and a half races in the centre of the course. Before 1996, the stalls were on the inside, which meant stall one had even further to go across to get over to that first dog-leg turn. I just took the view that were causing an unnecessary issue, so we put the stalls in the middle because they then have less of an angle to go at.
“Although I can’t work out the discrepancy between stall 10 and 11, you do tend to think that being drawn somewhere in the middle of a 16 to 18 runner Derby would give you the clearest run to that first point.”
 
The scene at Epsom Downs today
 
INVESTEC DERBY DRAW
 
In its second year, the Investec Derby draw for stall positions in Britain’s premier Classic and richest race the £1.625 million Investec Derby, took place in the historic winners enclosure in front of the Queen’s Stand. Drawing the allocations were Michael Hills (stalls), Derby winner in 1996 on Shaamit, and Willie Carson (horses) who took the prize four times with Troy (1979), Henbit (1980), Nashwan (1989), andErhaab (1994).
The ceremony was hosted live on Racing TV by Tom Stanley.
Carson commented after the draw ceremony: “Low numbers are the ones that have to do that bit of extra work early on. It is not as bad as when they put the stalls on the inside of the track, but it is still a little bit steeper in the first furlong and a half on the inside.
“They always put the stalls down on the inside rail in my day.
“Telecaster (trained by Hughie Morrison), was drawn 2… there has never ever been a winner out of stall 2. That was a bad call from me. Hughie will be spitting blood. But history is there to be made.
“It all depends on the horse. If you are riding a horse that wants to be up there, you want to be drawn high. If you are on a horse that is going to be held up, a lower draw doesn’t matter because you are there and you just accept where you are.
“Broome (drawn 8) was always my long-term one, because I knew that he would stay a mile and a half. That is the most important thing in a horse that is going to win the Derby.
“The Chester winner, Sir Dragonet (drawn 13), although it was soft ground, it was the manner of his win (Dee Stakes, 1m 4½ furlongs) that caught the eye.
“He sat last – did they go too fast? I don’t think so. He gave the impression that he was a horse that was improving at a very quick rate when he came through to win. So I think Sir Dragonet might be the one.
“It is down to the human factor then, they have made your mind up for you having the stalls in the middle, if you are drawn in the middle. If you are drawn high, you can stay or go, the same if you are drawn low.
“Nobody ever takes a pull in the Derby, you either push or accept where you are.”
 
 
 
HILLS REMEMBERS HIS DERBY WIN EVERY DAY
Michael Hills was one of two Investec Derby-winning jockeys present today for the official Investec Derby Draw on the eve of the Investec Derby Festival, along with Willie Carson.
Hills’ family are steeped in racing history – his trainer father, Barry Hills, won five British Classic races, although never at Epsom, and his brother Charlie recently trained Phoenix Of Spain to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas. His twin brother Richard was also a highly successful jockey, winning the 2005 Investec Oaks aboard Eswarah.
Hills’ victory in the 1996 Investec Derby on the William Haggas-trained Shaamit was his sole Epsom Classic winner, but his other Group One triumphs included the likes of Pentire in the 1996 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The 56-year-old is now a jockey coach and syndicate manager.
He said: “My earliest memory of Investec Derby is when my father [Barry] had a runner in the 1972 race, Rheingold. He got beat a short-head by Roberto [trained by Vincent O'Brien], and it was such a close finish that it took half an hour or something for the result to be announced. I was on the way back from school, and I just remember being gutted!”
Hills enjoyed 14 rides in the world’s premier Classic between 1985 and 2006.
He remembered: “My first ride in the Derby was in 1985 – Royal Harmony, for my father. He was 40/1 and I just had a nice ride round; I didn’t get anywhere near the front.
“On my third ride in the race, in 1988, I was second on Glacial Storm, trained by my father, to Kahyasi – my old mate Ray Cochrane beat me. That was my first ‘I could do this one day – I want to do it!’ moment.”
Shaamit came along in 1996.
Hills said: “He had quite a lot of problems prior to the Derby – he missed the Dante because he had ringworm, so we had to bypass it and go straight for the Derby. But we managed to get him here to Epsom and William Haggas, who trained him, did incredibly well. He was just a very, very good horse. A terrific horse, and on that day he was unbelievable.”
Asked if he can remember the feeling of winning the Investec Derby, Hills said with a laugh: “I remember it every day! You don’t often get a feeling like that.
“There were 20 runners and it was hard getting through the race without getting knocked about, because Shaamit had so little experience. I managed to glide him through the race. I remember talking to Lester [Piggott, who took the Investec Derby nine times] beforehand and he said, ‘save the horse for the straight’. I tried to save as much energy as I could for the straight, and when I showed him some daylight going to the three-furlong marker, he just took my hands and away we went. I will never forget it. You hear the crowd, and you hear your name being shouted on the tannoy. I just put my head down and rode as hard as I could.
“After the Derby, you are waiting for the next two-year-old that you think might be the next Derby horse – it goes on and on. You’ve got to be here for the Derby. It’s such an exciting race because it is so early on in a horse’s career that it is so open. Any of the 13 runners on Saturday can win it.”
Asked what he fancies in this year’s Investec Derby, Hills replied: “I’d love to see Bangkok [an 8/1 chance for trainer Andrew Balding and jockey Silvestre de Sousa] win this year. Andrew Balding is a terrific trainer and I’d love to see him win it. Aidan [O'Brien, who has won the race six times] has got a pretty strong team with seven in it; I think it is a very strong race, as it should be.”
13 declared runners for the 2019 Investec Derby
Group 1, £1,625,000 total prize fund. Epsom Downs, 4.30pm, Saturday, June 1, 2019, 1m 4f 6y. For three-year-old colts (9st) and fillies (8st 11lb). Horses will only be eligible to run provided they have attained a BHA rating of 80 or higher. Horses who do not qualify for a rating may also be eligible providing the BHA Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including the day before confirmation merit a provisional assessment of 80 or more. Horses who have not run will not be eligible. Entries closed December 5, 2017, first scratchings deadline March 5 (96 remained), second entries deadline April 2 (14 second entries), second scratchings deadline noon May 21 (18 remain), five-day confirmations & £85,000 supplementary stage May 27 (13 remain & two supplementary entries, Sir Dragonet & Telecaster – 15 go forward), final declarations May 30 (13 declared runners).
Dr
Horse
Owner
Trainer
Jockey
7
1) ANTHONY VAN DYCK (IRE)
Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
Aidan O’Brien IRE
Seamie Heffernan
12
2) BANGKOK (IRE)
King Power Racing Co Ltd
Andrew Balding
Silvestre de Sousa
8
3) BROOME (IRE)
Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier
Aidan O’Brien IRE
Donnacha O’Brien
5
4) CIRCUS MAXIMUS (IRE) c/p
Flaxman Stables/Sue Magnier/Michael Tabor/Derrick Smith
Aidan O’Brien IRE
Frankie Dettori
3
5) HIROSHIMA
Graham Smith-Bernal
John Ryan
Brett Doyle
9
6) HUMANITARIAN (USA)
HH Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed Racing
John Gosden
Robert Havlin
11
7) JAPAN
Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor
Aidan O’Brien IRE
Wayne Lordan
1
8) LINE OF DUTY (IRE) c/p
Godolphin
Charlie Appleby
James Doyle
6
9) MADHMOON (IRE)
Hamdan Al Maktoum
Kevin Prendergast IRE
Chris Hayes
10
10) NORWAY (IRE) c/p
Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor
Aidan O’Brien IRE
Jamie Spencer
13
11) SIR DRAGONET (IRE)
Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
Aidan O’Brien IRE
Ryan Moore
4
12) SOVEREIGN (IRE)
Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
Aidan O’Brien IRE
Padraig Beggy
2
13) TELECASTER
Castle Down Racing
Hughie Morrison
Oisin Murphy
 
13 declared runners
8 Irish-trained
Cape Of Good Hope & Surfman were taken out of the Investec Derby this morning
 
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