Pat Smullen snapped up for Khalidi in Epsom Derby

Final plans for Ballydoyle team to be finalised with Ryan Moore likely for Cliffs Of Moher

Last year’s Investec Derby hero Pat Smullen will attempt back to back wins at Epsom on Saturday on board the John Gosden-trained Khalidi. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Last year's Investec Derby hero Pat Smullen will attempt back to back wins at Epsom on Saturday on board the John Gosden-trained Khalidi.

Last week’s Goodwood winner was supplemented into the Derby on Monday at a cost of almost €100,000 and will be part of a strong Gosden team headed by Cracksman.

“He broke the track record at Goodwood and they’ve paid a lot of money to supplement him so they must be happy with him,” said Ireland’s champion jockey who secured a famous win aboard Harzand in 2016.

“It looks an open year and worth taking a shot. It’s about whatever steps up on the day. It will be a big field and hassle-free run through the race will be a big help,” Smullen added on Tuesday.


Ryan Moore is likely to leave a final decison on his Derby mount until Thursday's final declaration stage.

The English man is widely expected to team up with the Dees Stakes winner Cliffs Of Moher from the seven contenders Aidan O’Brien still has in the race.

However the champion trainer is in no rush to tie down jockey plans as he pursues a sixth win in racing’s blue riband.

Great races

“Ryan doesn’t have to make up his mind until Thursday morning. We’ll go through all the horses and everything will be discusssed. I wouldn’t say anything is written in stone yet.

“The two horses from Leopardstown, Douglas Macarthur and Capri, ran a very good race in the Derrinstown and that’s a very good trial.

“The three horses that ran in the Chester Vase all ran great races we thought, and we were very happy with the horse in the Dee Stakes,” O’Brien said.

Moore has won the Derby twice before, for O’Brien on Ruler Of The World in 2013 and on Workforce in 2010.

With Rhododendron already a hot favourite for Friday’s Oaks, O’Brien aims to continue his dominance of the Irish and British classics this season but also has an eye on breaking a notable omission in Paris on Sunday.

The French Derby will be a third classic in three days and Ireland’s champion trainer has never won the €1.5 million Prix Du Jockey Club.

He has five contenders among 13 currently left in the Chantilly highlight and said: “We’re looking at Orderofthegarter, Taj Mahal, War Decree and maybe Whitecliffsofdover.”

Unlike O’Brien, Moore can boast a French Derby victory having won on The Grey Gatsby in 2014.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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