Epsom Countdown Begins

Legend honoured and O'Brien guns for Derby record - and you can watch it all on Tellytrack from Friday!

On Thursday, 5 June 2014, Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper pronounced the going for the Investec Derby meeting as good and good to soft in places following 2mm of rain overnight. He tweeted: “2mm rain overnight @EpsomRacecourse, making 8mm in the last 24 hours. Will leave going as good, good to soft in places. Thurs & Fri dry.”

While the forecast for Thursday and Friday is dry, heavy rain could fall on Saturday with the Met Office issuing a yellow weather warning for the Epsom area. Any additional rain and subsequent ease in conditions would boost the chances of Roger Varian’s Racing Post Trophy winner Kingston Hill, who was made second favourite for Saturday’s Derby following Wednesday’s rain. Connections of market leader Australia, however, would prefer better ground for the son of 2001 Derby winner Galileo.

Gr1 Investec Oaks run in memory of Sir Henry Cecil

The 2014 renewal of the Epsom Oaks is being run in memory of the legendary trainer Sir Henry Cecil who died in June 2013. Cecil saddled the winner of the Oaks eight times – in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2007.

Seventeen horses, headed by Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Marvellous, have been declared for this year’s Oaks and will face the starter at Epsom Downs at 16:00 BST or 17:00 local time on Saturday, 7 June 2014.

Joseph O’Brien will take the ride for his father, trainer Aidan O’Brien, as they bid for a fillies’ Classic double.

The Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned pair of Taghrooda and Tarfasha are also among the contenders, with both in good form. Taghrooda won by six lengths at the Pretty Polly Stakes in Newmarket in May and Tarfasha was an impressive winner of the recent Blue Wind Stakes at Naas in Ireland.

David Simcock is one of a number of trainers with more than one chance in the one-and-a-half mile contest. He runs the Musidora winner Madame Chiang and Momentus, third in the Lingfield Oaks Trial behind Ralph Beckett’s Honor Bound, the choice of Jim Crowley over stablemate Regardez.

There would be few more popular winning jockeys than Jimmy Fortune, whose wife Jan died recently. He partners Marsh Daisy for Hughie Morrison.

Runners and riders:

1. Amazing Maria (IRE) – Ed Dunlop, Frankie Dettori (Dr12)
2. Anipa – Roger Varian, Andrea Atzeni (Dr16)
3. Dazzling (IRE) – Aidan O’Brien, Seamie Heffernan (Dr4)
4. Honor Bound – Ralph Beckett, Jim Crowley (Dr15)
5. Ihtimal (IRE) – Saeed bin Suroor, Kieren Fallon (Dr7)
6. Inchila – Peter Chapple-Hyam, Jamie Spencer (Dr6)
7. Island Remede – Ed Dunlop, James Doyle (Dr14)
8. Lily Rules (IRE) – Tony Coyle, Barry McHugh (Dr11)
9. Madame Chiang – David Simcock, William Buick (Dr1)
10. Marsh Daisy – Hughie Morrison, Jimmy Fortune (Dr5)
11. Marvellous (IRE) – Aidan O’Brien, Joseph Brien (Dr2)
12. Momentus (IRE) – David Simcock, Harry Bentley  (Dr8)
13. Palace (IRE) – Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore (Dr3)
14. Regardez – Richard Kingscote, Ralph Beckett (Dr13)
15. Taghrooda – John Gosden, Paul Hanagan (Dr9)
16. Tarfasha (IRE) – Dermot Weld, Pat Smullen (Dr10)
17. Volume – Luca Cumani, Richard Hughes (Dr17)

Recent Oaks winners

2013: Talent – Richard Hughes, Ralph Beckett
2012: Was – Seamie Heffernan, Aidan O’Brien
2011: Dancing Rain – Johnny Murtagh, William Haggas
2010: Snow Fairy – Ryan Moore, Ed Dunlop
2009: Sariska – Jamie Spencer, Michael Bell
2008: Look Here – Seb Sanders, Ralph Beckett

Gr1 Investec Derby

The field for the keenly awaited Investec Derby will face the starter at Epsom Downs at 16:00 BST or 17:00 local time on Saturday, 7 June 2014.

Aidan O’Brien has 4 Derby successes to his credit, having saddled Galileo in 2001, High Chaparral in 2002, Camelot in 2012 and Ruler Of The World in 2013. When Joseph O’Brien rode Camelot across the line to victory, they made history as the first father-son team to win the Derby and aim to make it a double this year with strong favourite, Australia. If successful, it will give Aidan O’Brien the distinction of having three wins in a row.

The O’Brien yard saddles four Derby contenders, including 2000 Guineas third Australia, Leopardstown Derby Trial third Geoffrey Chaucer, Chester Vase winner Orchestra and Dee Stakes winner, Kingfisher

“I was very happy with the way Orchestra won at Chester. I wasn’t sure he would get a mile and a half even though his pedigree is very stout. I know Ryan Moore was also impressed with him at Chester and thinks he has a big chance in the Derby,” O’Brien said.

“Kingfisher also won well at Chester and is very straightforward horse. Nothing went right for Geoffrey Chaucer in the Derrinstown at Leopardstown as it was a very messy race with a slow pace. Joseph had to go up the inside from where he was drawn.”

Rarely has a horse been better bred for the Derby than Australia, who is by Galileo, out of superstar Oaks winner Ouija Board and O’Brien believes the Galileo colt is among the finest he has ever trained.

“We knew Australia was special from the first time we worked him as a two-year-old. The lads always rated him as he always showed us something different. In the March/April of his two-year-old career he was half-speeding with horses he shouldn’t have been at that stage of his career. Australia is uncomplicated, relaxed and has speed – exactly what you want in a racehorse. He is a very natural horse and has a great mind, so he is like both his dad and his mum [Ouija Board] in that respect,” he said.

O’Brien’s son Joseph has been equally effusive. “He’s bred to stay the trip, bred to handle the track and bred to win the Derby which is what you need going to Epsom. It’s the ultimate test of a racehorse. You need to have a horse with pace, balance and that will get the trip. It’s the ultimate test of horse and rider. It’s the race every jockey wants to win. Australia has pace but is also well-balanced and has a good temperament – you really cannot fault him. I like him and always have done. I really believe in the horse. To be successful, you have to believe in your own horse.”

Kieren Fallon, who has been Champion Flat Jockey 6 times, and enjoyed 16 British Classic race successes including 3 Epsom Derbies, prepares to push that number to four aboard new employer Godolphin’s fancied True Story for Sheikh Mohammed. Working for Godolphin completes an unprecedented full house of number one jobs for the jockey, who’s previously been in the hot seat with the three other major forces of modern Flat racing: Coolmore, Sir Michael Stoute and the late Sir Henry Cecil.

True Story and Ihtimal are among a group that are due to be Godolphin’s first Epsom Classic runners since Sheikh Mohammed’s stable was at the centre of a notorious incident last year which saw 22 of its horses doped by their now banned trainer.

Runners and riders:

1. Arod – Peter Chapple-Hyam, Jamie Spencer (Dr3)
2. Australia – Aidan O’Brien, Joseph O’Brien (Dr12)
3. Ebanoran – John Oxx Declan, McDonogh (Dr6)
4. Fascinating Rock – Dermot Weld, Pat Smullen (Dr15)
5. Geoffrey Chaucer – Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore (Dr7)
6. Impulsive Moment – Andrew Balding, David Probert (Dr5)
7. Kingfisher – Aidan O’Brien, Colm O’Donoghue (Dr16)
8. Kingston Hill – Roger Varian, Andrea Atzeni (Dr2)
9. Orchestra – Aidan O’Brien, Seamie Heffernan (Dr14)
10. Our Channel – William Haggas, Silvestre De Sousa (Dr10)
11. Pinzolo – Charlie Appleby, James Doyle (Dr4)
12. Red Galileo – Ed Dunlop, Oisin Murphy (Dr8)
13. Romsdal – John Gosden, Richard Hughes (Dr11)
14. Sudden Wonder – Charlie Appleby, Kevin Manning (Dr9)
15. True Story – Saeed bin Suroor, Kieren Fallon (Dr1)
16. Western Hymn – John Gosden, William Buick (Dr13)

Recent Derby winners:

2013: Ruler Of The World – Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien
2012: Camelot – Joseph O’Brien, Aidan O’Brien
2011: Pour Moi – Mickael Barzalona, Andre Fabre
2010: Workforce – Ryan Moore, Sir Michael Stoute
2009: Sea The Stars – Michael Kinane, John Oxx
2008: New Approach – Kevin Manning, Jim Bolger

Full card available here

BBC’s Cornelius Lysaght and the Daily Mirror’s David Yates preview the runners and riders in a BBC Podcast

TV Coverage

We are pleased to confirm that both the Oaks and the Derby will be screened on Tellytrack as add-ons on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both meetings will be screened in full.

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