The Investec Derby is the official start of the Jubilee weekend and bookmakers are predicting that all the added interest in the race could result in record breaking turnover. Hills are particularly wary of a potential £3-4 million payout should the UK’s most successful female jockey Turner, ride to victory, and although she is on board one of the outsiders, her mount has been backed down from 100-1 to 40-1.
The only other woman to ride in the Derby was Alex Greaves, who finished last of 20 runners in the 1996 Classic on Portuguese Lil. Turner can at least better that finishing position, with only nine runners going to post – the lowest turnout in the Derby since 1907.
Trainer Tregoning won the Derby with Cavaleiro’s sire, Sir Percy, in 2006, and his charge arrives on the Downs after finishing third behind Main Sequence at Lingfield. “He did his last bit of work on Wednesday. His work was really good and I’ve been very happy with him since the [Lingfield] Trial,” said Tregoning. “He’s come on a ton. We all know he has got to improve that much to be anywhere near the main protagonists, but I’m just hopeful he has a good trip round there.”
However, while Turner’s participation – and her breeches – will command a lot of attention, most eyes will be on red-hot favourite Camelot, with jockey Joseph O’Brien hoping to write his name into the history books.
O’Brien, 19, will be enjoying just his second ride in the premier Classic after finishing fourth on pacesetting outsider Memphis Tennessee last year. His situation this time could not be more different as he partners Camelot. The young rider has already enjoyed high-profile success in his relatively short career, having landed his first British Classic when Camelot won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last month.
The Montjeu colt arrives unbeaten in three starts and O’Brien acknowledges he is the top horse on the formbook. The jockey said: “He is obviously the form horse in the race and I’m really looking forward to riding him again. It’s the Epsom Derby. There is only one every year and it’s up there as one of the biggest races in the world. You’d like to think Camelot will handle the track, but until they’ve gone there and experienced it you can’t be totally sure.
“The way he finished the Guineas you’d be confident he’ll get ten furlongs and then whether he’ll get the mile and a half, we’ll just have to see. When you’re starting out the Derby is one of the races you want to be riding in and I’m looking forward to Saturday now.”
The O’Brien team – who took the Oaks with Was yesterday – have a second string to their bow in Dee Stakes winner Astrology.
O’Brien jnr would not dismiss his chance, either, after his emphatic success at Chester. “He was very impressive at Chester and his form is very solid,” said the jockey. “He went to his trial, you can only beat what is put in front of you and he won by 11 lengths, so you can’t knock him.”
The horse expected to give the O’Brien pair most to think about is the Andrew Balding-trained Bonfire, winner of what is widely regarded as Britain’s best Derby trial, the Dante Stakes at York. “I was delighted with Bonfire at York – he did everything we could have asked and he seems to have come out of the race very well,” said Balding. “Camelot is a clearly a formidable opponent. He looked very good at Newmarket and he looked a bit special at Doncaster last year. He’s going to be very tough to beat, but we’ll certainly give it a good go.”
Balding also saddles 100-1 outsider Minimise Risk.
David Lanigan sends out unbeaten Lingfield Derby Trial winner Main Sequence as he seeks a first British Classic victory. “I was delighted with his run at Lingfield. We wanted to go to Chester with him for the Dee Stakes, but the ground was too soft,” said Lanigan . “He’s gradually gone up the steps and done everything we wanted him to do.”
Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey saddles his first Derby runner in Mickdaam, who earned his starting berth with a determined effort in the Chester Vase. It is also a first ride in the race for current champion jockey, Paul Hanagan.
“We’re not shooting in the dark, but we’re 33-1 in the Derby and that’s probably his chance,” said Fahey.
The two remaining runners finished first and third respectively in the Fairway Stakes at Newmarket last month, the John Gosden-trained Thought Worthy and Rugged Cross from the Henry Candy stable.