The Epsom Derby is the race every breeder, trainer, owner and jockey wishes to win. It is the pinnacle race of the flat racing world. Thousands of foals are born each year but just one of that group will win it. Thirteen horses attempt to win it this year.
There are many different trials, on both sides of the Irish Sea, which have given us hints to the winner of the 2019 Derby. I’m going to focus on these trials in my preview today…
The Chester Vase (8th May) was won in incredible style by Sir Dragonet, trained by Aidan O’Brien. Previous to that, he’d only ran in one race, a maiden, which he won nicely, but stormed down the outside as they went round the home turn to win by eight lengths, going away. He is sure to stay but Epsom will be a new test for him. The track is like no other. We saw the argy-bargy nature of it when the favourite for the Oaks, Mehdaayih, got squeezed for room through the most critical stages. It is whether he is mentally ready for this test as he is the most unexposed in the line up.
He was followed in by stablemate Norway. The chestnut son of Galileo was very keen at Chester and couldn’t get close to Sir Dragonet when he kicked for home. He won the Zetland Stakes over one mile two furlongs last year and receives the services of Jamie Spencer. I think he will stay but there are better horses in the line up. He’ll appreciate the firmer conditions in comparison to Chester.
Traditionally, this race is a good clue to the Derby and three of the runners will line up against each other again. They went very quick along the Knavesmire in the Dante Stakes (16th May) and the eventual winner Telecaster was sat in second most of the way. He edged into the front at one furlong out and never looked like he was going to be beaten. That was sixteen days ago and connections had to supplement this New Approach colt into the race. It was a hefty sum of money but when you have a horse who won a premier trial for the biggest flat race of them all so well, you can’t not can you? His ownership won the Oaks with Anapuna on the Friday so they’ll be hoping that the winners keep coming – and they have a good chance too!
Aidan O’Brien had Japan in that race and it was one of the only major trials he didn’t win. Japan had no change of gear and ended up fourth at the finish. He had previously won the Beresford Stakes at two, beating Sovereign, and his pedigree is for the middle distances so the Dante run can be crossed out as he definitely needed the run. I don’t fancy him to win but Wayne Lordan has won classics before on less fancied horses.
Line Of Duty was seventh and he made no impression at all. He’s a classy horse as he won the grade one Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf beating Anthony Van Dyck in November. He appears to be a horse who is best at one mile and I don’t expect him to stay one mile four furlongs but connections did win this last year.
LINGFIELD DERBY TRIAL
Anthony Van Dyck was victorious for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore in the Lingfield Derby Trail (11th May) and ran on nicely that day so I’m sure he’ll stay. He really impressed me and I’ve always thought that he was a Derby type. He notched up three runs on the trot at two before finding Quorto, Advertise and Too Darn Hot too much in group ones at a mile. The American run can be ignored and I think he’s a leading player. I’m surprised that Ryan and Donnacha have abandoned him but Seamie Heffernan is an extremely good replacement.
Hiroshima was never on terms in the Dante so I can’t see him placing this as he has a huge amount of ground to make up on all of these from the looks of it.
Broome, trained by Aidan O’Brien, was a short priced favourite for the Derrinstown (12th May) and went through the gears well to run out a nice win. That was over one mile two and Donnacha O’Brien also thinks he’ll stay otherwise he wouldn’t be riding him. I wasn’t overly impressed with that win and I think he needs some cut in the ground as his three wins have all come on those conditions. Saying that, Donnacha has been on the right one a lot lately.
Stable mate Sovereign was beaten eight lengths by Broome in the Ballysax and three lengths in this Derby Trial. He’s 66/1 and is the likely pacemaker under Padraig Beggy from stall four.
Circus Maximus was yet another trial winner for Aidan O’Brien as he won the Dee Stakes (9th May) in decent style. From that, it doesn’t give obvious signs he’ll stay. His dam never raced a mile past so I’m not too sure he’ll stay but he has Frankie, who won the Oaks, on him. Cheek pieces have been added to try and wake him up a bit.
SANDOWN CLASSIC TRIAL
Bangkok would be a fairytale winner of this race after his owner tragically died in a helicopter crash outside King Power Stadium in Leicester. He showed a nice turn of foot to win the Sandown Classic Trail (26 April) and fuel the dream of Derby Glory. He may have been a bit forgotten about as he was last seen on the 26th April. He never won at two but he beat Telecaster in a maiden at Doncaster in March so that proves he’s a classy individual and probably will stay.
Madhmoon was last seen as a fast finishing fourth in the 2000 Guineas (4th May). He won his two starts at two and he will relish the good going. He beat Broome in a group two in September but there isn’t much stamina in his pedigree so I have my doubts. Kevin Prendergast is a great trainer and it would be fitting if he could win.
Humanitarian is by Frankel’s brother Noble Mission and the latter will be looking to replicate his older brother in winning a Classic in 2019 but his offspring is a 100/1 shot. He won well the last twice at class five level but this is about the largest step in class you can get. Would be nice for his seven year old owner is he could go well.
Like the Oaks, this is extremely open and there are about five you could give a chance to. ANTHONY VAN DYCK is the horse that has been sticking in my head when I think about the Derby. I think he’s tailor made for this test and he will be primed to perfection by his trainer. I also give a chance to Telecaster as you can’t not after such an impressive trail victory. Experience could be the issue. The same comment applies to Sir Dragonet but the ground could be the undoing of him. Overall, he’s probably the best horse in the race. If the ground come up soft for the Irish Derby, lump on. It’s as simple as that. Bangkok has place claims.
1st Anthony Van Dyck
3rd Sir Dragonet
REST OF THE TEAM SELECTIONS
Luke – Broome / Madhmoon
Max – Telecaster /Madhmoon
Lois – Anthony Van Dyck
Killian – Madhmoon
SAMANTHA’S EPSOM CARD SELECTIONS
R1 – Red Hot
R2 – Nyaleti
R3 – Zaaki
R4 – Hathiq
R5 – Anthony Van Dyck
R6 – Sextant
R7 – Lake Volta