Declan McDonogh convinced he has ‘live chance’ on Ebanoran

John Oxx’s record of two winners and a third from three Derby starters speaks for itself

Declan McDonogh’s only previous Epsom Derby ride was on an unconsidered 50/1 shot but the former champion jockey goes into this Saturday’s blue-riband convinced he has a “live chance” of landing the world’s most prestigious Classic on Ebanoran.

The colt, first past the post in last month’s Derrinstown Trial, is the longest-priced of the first three home from that Leopardstown race in Epsom betting but despite losing the prize in the stewards’ room his rider is taking a lot of positives from that performance and even the fact he is lining up at all.

Trainer John Oxx’s record of two winners and a third from just three Derby starters is outstanding and the Aga Khan’s four victories as an owner have come from just a dozen starters in the historic race.

In contrast McDonogh's sole experience came on board the Aidan O'Brien-trained Anton Chekhov who raced second for much of the race in 2007 before fading to finish 12th of 17 behind Authorized.


That was the year that O’Brien famously saddled a remarkable eight runners in the Derby and although he is set to run ‘only’ half that number in 2014, they are led by the warm favourite Australia, and backed up by the second favourite, Geoffrey Chaucer.

McDonogh knows all about the latter, having finished ahead of him in the Derrinstown, and while he respects Australia’s credentials, the jockey is looking forward to taking him on.

“Obviously Australia has a good turn of foot and the pedigree to get the trip. He also looks like an easy ride which will help Joseph (O’Brien.) But I think our horse is going there with a live chance and is entitled to be there.

‘Great trial’

“ The Derrinstown has proven itself a great trial over the years and we like the way our lad has been training since that race,” he said yesterday.

Ebanoran’s dam, Ebadiyla, was sixth in the 1997 Epsom Oaks but afterwards won the Irish Oaks and later the French St Leger over almost two miles.

“I know he is by Oasis Dream but the dam’s side has stamina and he relaxed very well at Leopardstown even when they went slow and it turned into a messy race,” McDonogh said.

No one can know for sure they will stay until they do but the pedigree says he should,” he added.

Co Kerry-born apprentice Oisín Murphy, the rising star of the jockey ranks in Britain, has secured a first Derby ride on the outsider Red Galileo this Saturday while other rider news yesterday included another development in the shifting situation at Godolphin, with Kevin Manning booked to ride Sudden Wonder instead of Mikael Barzalona.

‘Positive rider’

“I have spoken to connections and we agreed we would like Kevin Manning to be on board as his style of riding will suit Sudden Wonder,” trainer

Charlie Appleby

said yesterday.

“He is a very positive rider and experienced around Epsom. He partnered New Approach, Sudden Wonder’s sire, to victory in the Derby.”

The Aga Khan himself has expressed confidence in Ebanoran lasting out the famous mile and a half and the owner reported: "John Oxx feels he is a progressive horse, one that improves with his racing. He's counting on that.

“I don’t feel you can ever win the Derby if you don’t stay. My colt has stamina on the dam side and that is a good thing.”

Fascinating Rock got the Derrinstown in the stewards room and will again take on Ebanoran and Geoffrey Chaucer on Saturday, with trainer Dermot Weld unconcerned about ground conditions.

“Whatever way the ground goes he will run,” he said. “He’s very sound and very well. His work is more or less complete now. Provided everything is okay, he’s a definite runner.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column