Ed Dunlop concedes Irish-trained horses have ‘stranglehold’ on Epsom Derby

Trainer preparing to lead home defence with John Leeper and jockey Adam Kirby

British trainer  Ed Dunlop on John Leeper: ‘He is an inexperienced horse, but what I was pleased to see today was that he has been very relaxed doing the whole thing.’ Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

British trainer Ed Dunlop on John Leeper: ‘He is an inexperienced horse, but what I was pleased to see today was that he has been very relaxed doing the whole thing.’ Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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Ed Dunlop has conceded it looks like Irish-trained horses have a “stranglehold” on Saturday week’s Epsom Derby but is preparing to lead the home defence with John Leeper.

The colt named after Dunlop’s father John – a Derby winner with Shirley Heights and Erhaab – impressed in a workout around Epsom’s renowned gradients on Monday.

The son of Frankel and the dual-Oaks heroine Snow Fairy worked under jockey Adam Kirby who will ride him in the “Blue Riband”.

John Leeper is a general 8-1 shot in betting for the Derby in a market dominated by the Aidan O’Brien pair Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition as well as Jim Bolger’s Irish 2,000 Guineas hero, Mac Swiney.

Inexperienced

“This was about bringing him to get a bit more experience with Adam [Kirby] on him. The ground was very soft, almost heavy, but he looked to enjoy himself.

“Hopefully everything will be okay and we will be back here on the first Saturday in June. He is an inexperienced horse, but what I was pleased to see today was that he has been very relaxed doing the whole thing.

“He is not a baby, but everything was new to him today. I was thrilled with the way he behaved and he wasn’t keen going down the hill, which was good as they were only going slowly.

“He has got to step up markedly to be competitive in the Derby, which at the moment the Irish look like they have a stranglehold on. We will just keep him fit, healthy and sound leading up to the race and the rest will be up to the Gods,” Dunlop said.

John Leeper is the shortest priced British trained contender alongside Godolphin’s Dante winner, Hurricane Lane.

It was confirmed on Monday that William Buick will maintain his partnership with Hurricane Lane which leaves James Doyle to ride the 2,000 Guineas sixth One Ruler.

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