Aidan O’Brien has six of the best in his bid for a record eighth Epsom Derby success
Ballydoyle trainer shares the record of seven winners alongside Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling
Aidan O’Brien has a six-strong team entered in the Epsom Derby as he bids for a record eighth success in the crown jewel of the five English Classics on Saturday.
The Ballydoyle trainer shares the record of seven winners alongside Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling but another victory in the race can move O’Brien out on his own as the most successful trainer of the classic.
Ryan Moore has picked Mogul from the O’Brien pack while Seamie Heffernan and Padraig Beggy have travelled from Ireland to partner Russian Emperor and Vatican City, respectively.
Completing the trainer’s line-up in the 16-runner field are Amhran Na Bhfiann (William Buick), Mythical (James Doyle) and Serpentine (Emmet McNamara).
Mogul was fourth on his reappearance behind Pyledriver and Mohican Heights in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on his reappearance on June 16 and O’Brien expects the Galileo colt to improve from that run.
“We've been happy with Mogul since Ascot and we think he's gone the right way since his last run,” O’Brien said after Thursday’s declarations.
Challenging the O’Brien runners are Ed Walker’s English King and John Gosden’s 2000 Guineas victor Kameko.
English King, winner of the Listed Derby Trial, is the international favourite but he’s drawn in gate 1 from which no horse has won in this century.
The last Derby winner from the inside gate was Oath in 1999 and only three winners have come from that barrier since 1967 but with the experience of Frankie Dettori on the driver’s seat, the draw would be of little or no concern.
Kameko jumps out of gate 11 and has the services of the British champion jockey Oisim Murphy.
The Kitten’s Joy colt has won thrice and was runner up in the other two starts over seven furlongs and a mile, but the way he quickened up to win the 2000 Guineas makes him the one they will all have to fear.
Kameko’s form appears to be rock solid despite tackling the longer mile and-a-half distance for the first time.
Khalifa Sat, also trained by Balding for Emirati owner Ahmad Al Shaikh carries the UAE’s hopes in the race.
The Free Eagle colt appears to have progressed from his two runs last year, finishing sixth on his debut in a novice before successful in a Class 2 Maiden.
He made all to win from the re-opposing Emissary on his reappearance in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes on June 16.
“I’m just thrilled to have a runner in the Derby,” Al Shaikh, who plans to travel on Friday to watch his horse in action at Epsom, said.
“In horse racing, you never know what can happen. I am hoping he will run a big race. If he can finish in the top five, it will be great. But I will not lose sleep if he doesn’t.”
William Muir’s Pyledriver can go close if he can replicate his Royal Ascot victory over Mohican Heights and Mogul both trailing more than four lengths behind in third and fourth.
O’Brien is also seeking and eighth Oaks success at the same meeting. He has a trio entered in the eight-runner field.
The Moore-ridden 1000 Guineas winner Love spearheads his challenge along with Ennistymon (Heffernan) and Passion (Beggy).
Gosden’s Frankly Darling with Dettori in the saddle is the likely one that can stop the O’Brien juggernaut.
Updated: July 3, 2020 08:20 AM