Horse Racing: The Derby (Early News)

There are less than two months until the 240th running of the Derby, the premier Classic and the Greatest Flat Race in the World, at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1.

The 2019 renewal of the historic race over a mile and a half, Britain’s richest at £1.5 million, has 96 contenders remaining at this stage.

The reigning British champion Flat trainer John Gosden has won the Derby twice, most recently with Golden Horn in 2015, and the Newmarket-based handler has 16 contenders going forward, headed by last season’s champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot.

The son of Dubawi, owned by Lord Lloyd Webber and undefeated in four starts during 2018, finished last year with an authoritative success in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket and was named European champion two-year-old with a rating of 126.

Not surprisingly, Too Darn Hot is the clear favourite for the Derby at 5/1 in the horse racing odds available with 888sport.

Also among the 16-strong Gosden-trained contingent are maiden winners Baltic Song (80/1)Dubai Warrior (12/1), Humanitarian (28/1) and Questionare (66/1).

Godolphin saw its famous royal blue silks carried to success for the first time in the 2018 Investec Derby by Masar and there are two entries currently engaged for the Maktoum family’s racing operations.

The unraced pair Wirraway (66/1, John Gosden) and Mawsoof (50/1 Saaed bin Suroor), though the Godolphin-owned Quorto, trained by Charlie Appleby, is quoted as the third favourite at 16/1.

Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien is chasing a record-equalling seventh Derby success following the victories of Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler of the World (2013), Australia (2014), and Wings of Eagles (2017).

The Ballydoyle-trainer has 25 entries going forward in 2019, including the Futurity Stakes winner Anthony Van Dyck (14/1 second favourite), third behind Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst Stakes, and Beresford Stakes winner Japan (16/1).

O’Brien recently sent out Broome (11/1) to win the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown and he will return there to contest the Derrinstown, which is usually an insightful Classic trial.

Broome finished second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at the Arc meeting last season and at this early stage looks like O’Brien’s leading candidate for the Derby.

His Highness The Aga Khan has won the Investec Derby five times, most recently with Harzand in 2016.

There are eight Aga Khan-owned entries currently engaged, including the unraced Zarkallani (66/1), who is out of the unbeaten five-time Group One winner Zarkava and therefore a half-brother to the G1 winner Zarak.

Upper Lambourn trainer Ed Walker has yet to saddle an Investec Derby runner, but has a contender this year in Ginistrelli (66/1). The son of Frankel is owned by Bjorn Nielsen and Eastwind Racing Ltd and is a half-brother to Gravitation.

After finishing fourth on debut at Salisbury in October, Ginistrelli ended 2018 by winning a mile novice race at Newmarket later the same month.


Epsom News: The Oaks

Group One winner Iridessa stars among 60 entries for the 2019 Oaks, details of which were revealed last week.

The 12-furlong fillies’ Classic is the highlight on day one of the Derby Festival, Ladies’ Day, Friday, May 31, and carries a total prize fund of at least £500,000.

One of two Investec Oaks entries for Joseph O’Brien and owner Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez, Iridessa provided O’Brien with his first Group One success in Britain as a trainer when powering to victory in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October.

The three-year-old daughter of 2013 Investec Derby winner Ruler Of The World, who is the 16/1 co-favourite with us here at 888sport, finished third on her 2019 return in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on April 6.

Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez is no stranger to success in the Oaks, having seen her colours carried to victory by 50/1 outsider Qualify in 2015.

The owner’s other entry, Altair (50/1), by 2014 Investec Derby victor Australia, came late and fast to make a winning debut in a seven-furlong Dundalk Polytrack maiden in January.

Joseph O’Brien, who has been a trainer since June, 2016, missed out on partnering an Oaks winner, but was twice successful as a rider in the Derby on Camelot  and Australia.

Joseph’s father Aidan O’Brien, Ireland’s champion Flat trainer for the past 20 years, who trained Camelot, Ruler Of The World and Australia, accounts for 19 Investec Oaks entries this year, the most of any handler, as he goes after a remarkable Oaks victory.

Aidan O’Brien’s contenders include Hermosa (16/1), who chased home Iridessa in the Fillies’ Mile, and impressive Rockfel Stakes scorer Just Wonderful (16/1). Promising maiden winners Chablis (16/1) and Pink Dogwood (25/1) are also entered.

Dual Investec Oaks-winning handler Ralph Beckett has three talented entries for owner Waverley Racing, all sired by Lope De Vega. The unbeaten Manuela De Vega (16/1) defeated her male counterparts in the Listed Silver Tankard Stakes at Pontefract in October.

Meanwhile, Antonia De Vega (33/1) captured the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood. Impressive Doncaster maiden scorer Dancing Vega (20/1) completes the trio.

The pick of the three French-trained entries is Camelot filly Wonderment (25/1),who has not been seen out since defeating Sydney Opera House by a neck in the 10-furlong Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October, when she was the only filly in the nine-strong field.

Trainer Nicolas Clement revealed: “Wonderment has grown over the winter and looks a picture at the moment. I could not be happier with her.

“She was a Group One winner as a two-year-old, we have no doubts about her staying a mile and a half, and we think she will handle Epsom, which is why we decided to make the entry.

“She will start off in the Prix Penelope at Saint-Cloud on May 1 and then depending on how she gets on there, we have the option of the Investec Oaks or the Prix de Diane.”

Andre Fabre is the most recent French trainer to have landed the Investec Oaks, courtesy of Intrepidity in 1993, and the handler has two entries this year in Villa d’Amore (20/1) and Tamniah (20/1), who are both twice-raced maiden winners.

Other notable Investec oaks entries include G1 Prix Marcel Boussac third Star Terms (Richard Hannon, 33/1), who hails from the family of outstanding 1982 Oaks heroine Time Charter, and highly-regarded Yarmouth scorer Frankellina (33/1), the pick of three entries for Newmarket-based trainer William Haggas.

Steven is a sports and horse racing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 30 renewals of the Grand National.