Epsom Downs staged its annual Breakfast With The Stars media event this morning, Tuesday, May 21, ahead of the Investec Derby Festival on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1.
Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden were among a host of trainers and jockeys to share their thoughts ahead of three feature G1 races over the two days – the Investec Derby, the Investec Oaks and the Investec Coronation Cup. All three contests are part of the British Champions Series.
O'Brien revealed that he could run as many as eight horses in the Investec Derby on Saturday, June 1, as he seeks a record-equaling seventh success. A total of 18 colts remain engaged following today's scratchings deadline. Ireland's 21-time champion Flat trainer has a litany of talent at his disposal for the premier Classic, with a number of his team landing most of the recognized trials in the run-up to the 12-furlong event.
O'Brien's revealed that his team is likely to be spearheaded by the unbeaten Sir Dragonet, who is 7/2 joint-favorite with Unibet, the official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
The son of Camelot backed up victory in a Tipperary maiden in April with a taking eight-length victory over stable companion Norway (33/1) in the G3 Chester Vase over an extended 12 furlongs earlier this month.
Despite talk earlier this week of Sir Dragonet potentially heading for the French Derby at Chantilly a week later, the Coolmore triumvirate of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor are now reportedly favoring supplementing the colt for the Epsom Downs showpiece at a cost of £85,000.
Also at the head of the market is Broome (7/2) who has captured a pair of G3 races at Leopardstown this term. An impressive eight-length winner of the Ballysax Stakes in April, the son of Australia landed the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial on May 12 last time out.
Discussing his Investec Derby team in a phone interview this morning, O'Brien commented: “Sir Dragonet has been going great at home. If I had a bet on it, I think the lads are favoring towards running him at Epsom over France. We don't have to make our mind up until the supplementary stage but we are favouring Epsom.
“He was always a very easy horse at home and has only done what he was asked. He has never tried to stand out from the crowd. What we have asked him to do he has done really well. The only time he has been asked is when he has run twice. He showed that he quickens nicely over middle distances. I know John Magnier considers Epsom to be the Holy Grail and the ground is Epsom is always beautiful.
“Broome has had two runs. Ryan and Donnacha have been happy with him and everything has been good with him. Norway ran well at Chester and he stays the mile and a half, which he did well at Chester.”
O'Brien's other contenders include Listed Lingfield Derby Trial victor Anthony Van Dyck (5/1), Listed Dee Stakes scorer Circus Maximus (20/1) and G2 Dante Stakes fourth Japan (9/1).
Assessing his team, O'Brien said: “To be fair to all of the horses, they have all done what has been asked of them. We have run the horses in the trials and we knew they were all going to come forward from it.
“I know Maria [Niarchos-Gouazé] and the lads thought about Epsom for Circus Maximus after Chester and I think we knew that he would come forward from Chester.
“Anthony Van Dyck was always a horse we thought would get middle distances. We kept him to short enough distances last year and he ran some really good races as a two-year-old where he won the Futurity and was third in a Dewhurst. We always thought he was going to be a middle distance horse so we were delighted with how he got on last year. Ryan was very happy with him at Lingfield and he thought he got the trip well.
“Cape Of Good Hope won the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom and he has come forward again from that. He is a full-brother to Idaho and Highland Reel. When we stepped those two horses up to a mile and a half, they improved again.
“Norway ran well behind Sir Dragonet at Chester and he will improve for that run and he proved he stayed the trip.
“Japan will improve an awful lot from the Dante. That was his first run of the year and he did a bit of work this morning which went very well. I think he will get the mile and a half very well.
“Mohawk ran at Chester and ran very well. We are not sure if he is a definite mile and a half horse, so we could wait for the French Derby with him.
“I think there will be a good crew of horses there. If their work goes well between now and then, we should have a good crew at Epsom.”
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