SNOW SKY has been given the go-ahead to run in the Investec Derby. Sir Michael Stoute’s colt features in the 27 contenders left in at the latest scratching deadline and will now take his chance in the premier Classic at Epsom on 7 June.
Snow Sky, who was also under consideration for the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, was an impressive winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial on 10 May and is around the 16-1 mark for Epsom glory. “We’ve given it good consideration and, all things considered, Prince Khalid was happy to go to Epsom with Snow Sky,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah.
Hot favourite Australia is still in contention and is one of six colts engaged for trainer Aidan O’Brien, who could also be represented by Orchestra, Kingfisher, Geoffrey Chaucer, Adelaide and Gypsy King. John Gosden is responsible for second-favourite Western Hymn, who is unbeaten in three starts, including the Classic Trial at Sandown.
Another trial winner who could line up is the Dermot Weld-trained Fascinating Rock, while the second and third from York’s Dante Stakes, Arod and True Story, also go forward.
William Haggas is the only trainer with a 100 per cent record in the Investec Derby, having scored with Shaamit back in 1996, and has left in Our Channel. Kingston Hill and Toast Of New York remain in the mix, with French interests this year sharpened by the presence of Karakontie and Norse Prize.
Gosden’s Taghrooda is the star name among the 24 going forward in the Investec Oaks (in memory of Sir Henry Cecil) on 6 June. The daughter of Sea The Stars won her maiden last season and looked destined for a big future when running away with the Pretty Polly Stakes on her return. Her owner, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, also has a possible powerful second string to his bow in the Weld-trained Tarfasha, winner of the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.
A couple of fillies who ran well in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas are still in the mix, with Olly Stevens’ Lightning Thunder, a possible for the Irish Guineas this weekend, and Godolphin’s Ihtimal having been left in.
O’Brien has left six in but surprisingly, the shortest-priced of those, Palace, is as big as 16-1. Wonderfully, Bracelet and Tapestry are still engaged for Bally doyle. Others to stand their ground are Ed Dunlop’s Amazing Maria and Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Shamkala, although she is expected to run in the Prix de Diane instead.
Meanwhile, Olympic Glory is on a collision course with Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp on Sunday. Trained by Richard Hannon and owned by Al Shaqab Racing, Olympic Glory is set for a quick return to the track in the nine-furlong Group One contest after winning the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last weekend. He is set to wage war with Corine Barande-Barbe’s French veteran Cirrus Des Aigles, who claimed the scalp of Treve in the Prix Ganay at the Paris track in April.
Despite the close proximity of the Lockinge and the D’Ispahan, connections of Olympic Glory are prepared to take a calculated gamble with last season’s Queen Elizabeth II winner.
Harry Herbert, racing advisor for Al Shaqab Racing, said: “It’s unusual, obviously, but I think this is a slightly unusual horse in that he is hardened, tough and loves his racing. As long as Richard Hannon is happy, we feel the horse is ready to go again.”