Irish trainers looking to continue their domination of Epsom Derby

Aidan O’Brien and Jim Bolger planning all-out attack on Blue Riband race

High Definition is one of six entries for trainer Aidan O’Brien for Saturday’s Epsom Derby. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

High Definition is one of six entries for trainer Aidan O’Brien for Saturday’s Epsom Derby. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

It is odds-on that Irish dominance of British racing’s biggest races extends to Saturday’s Cazoo Epsom Derby.

Unprecedented Irish superiority in the National Hunt sphere this year famously included 23 of the 28 races at the Cheltenham festival and an Aintree Grand National rout spearheaded by Rachael Blackmore’s groundbreaking success on Minella Times.

Switching to the Flat has seen little change in momentum with Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare landing the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas and Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth successful in the 1,000.

Now Bolger and his former protege are switching their attention to the 242nd renewal of Flat racing’s ‘Blue Riband’ prize and bookmakers reckon they again hold the whip hand over their cross-channel rivals.

A total of nine of the 19 colts left in the Derby at the latest acceptance stage on Monday came from Ireland with O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition topping half a dozen Ballydoyle entries.

Those two colts top the individual betting as their trainer pursues a ninth victory to emulate Lester Piggott’s record Derby haul as a jockey.

Bolger’s Irish Guineas winner Mac Swiney is third best in betting lists and Paddy Power go 8-11 about an unequalled run of Irish dominance in the most famous race of all – with the Derby falling to a horse trained in Ireland seven times in the last 10 years – getting stretched even further.

They also go odds-on about one of O’Brien’s handful of potential runners in Friday’s Oaks emerging on top.

Ireland’s champion trainer has won the fillies’ Classic five times in the last decade but remarkably his Derby record is one better in the same timeframe.

Beginning with Camelot in 2012, and continuing to last year’s surprise winner, Serpentine, O’Brien’s dominance is unrivalled in the Derby’s long history.

His predecessor at Ballydoyle, the legendary Vincent O’Brien, saddled his six Derby winners between 1962 and 1982.

Four of those were ridden by Piggott, whose overall tally of nine successes is within touching distance of the 51-year-old Irishman this Saturday.

With Ryan Moore expected to ride the Derrinstown winner Bolshoi Ballet, and Frankie Dettori on standby to possibly ride High Definition, other Ballydoyle possibles include Sir Lamorak and Van Gogh.

O’Brien’s son Joseph, a Derby winner on Camelot and Australia (2014) as a jockey, is set to saddle the outsider Southern Lights, while the other Irish entry is the Luke Comer owned and trained 250-1 outsider Seattle Sound who was due to run at Roscommon on Monday.

The first horse trained in Ireland to land the Derby was the ‘Boss’ Croker owned Orby in 1907. He is one of 22 winners in all that have been prepared in this country.

Among the likely home team for Saturday’s big race is Godolphin’s Dante winner Hurricane Lane and the Fairway Stakes winner John Leeper, a son of the 2010 Oaks heroine Snow Fairy.

With authorities at Epsom aiming to run the Derby on ground no faster than good to firm, watering began at the track on Monday.

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper and his team put on 5mm and will be scanning weather forecasts to see if further watering will be necessary later in the week.

“We’re focusing today on those bits of the track that we would be calling good to firm, or the fast side of good, if we were racing here today,” Cooper said

“As far as the Derby course is concerned, it’s really only the first half a mile from the Derby start to the mile start that walks a bit quicker than the last mile.

“We’ll be leaving the last mile, certainly for today, and we’ve decided we’ll put 5mm over that first half mile.

“In our judgment the time has come for us to step in and just start irrigation. In terms of the forecast, increasingly the shower risk at the end of the week is diminishing.

“There’ still a degree of uncertainty. But here and now, the risk of showers is diminishing which is one of the considerations to us cracking on and doing some watering.”

Unlike Epsom, Aidan O’Brien’s French Derby record means he is still waiting to break his duck in the Chantilly Classic, which will take place on Sunday.

Although O’Brien has traditionally concentrated his big guns on the English Classic this time he has the favourite for the Prix Du Jockey Club in St Mark’s Basilica.

Winner of the French Guineas on his last start, St Mark’s Basilica is one of 22 still left in the Chantilly Classic alongside his stable companion Van Gogh who has an alternative option at Epsom.

Godolphin’s One Ruler also holds entries in both Derbies while El Drama is a likely runner in France for Roger Varian.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.