Epsom was a hive of activity on Monday as preparations for next week’s two-day extravaganza continued at pace.
A big field looks likely for Cazoo Derby on Saturday week with 21 entries still in the mix and at least a couple of supplementary entries on the cards, who will swell the £1.5 million prize money already on offer.
Here’s a guide to all the potential runners with a verdict to follow next week.
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. Best odds: 66-1.
Seems an unlikely runner after finishing a disappointing sixth in the Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Best odds: 9-1.
One of five possible runners in the race for Aidan O’Brien, who already has a record eight Derby winner on his CV. All of O’Brien’s challengers are sons of Galileo, who has sired five winners of the premier Classic (all trained by O’Brien). Changingoftheguard leapt into the Derby picture when making all and galloping his rivals into submission in the Chester Vase. Coped well with the soft ground that day, but not one to underestimate whatever the going is on the big day.
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. Best odds: 5-2.
It’s been 12 years since Workforce provided Stoute with his fifth Derby winner but he’s not had such an obvious challenger as Desert Crown in the interim. Most professional when sweeping aside the opposition on his return in the Dante, having won a maiden at Nottingham at the backend of last season. Open to more improvement and his pedigree suggests the step up to a mile and a half will be no bother.
Trainer: Stan Moore. Best odds: –.
His Bahrain-based owner/breeder is keen to supplement him for £75,000 next week, even though he beat only one home in a Listed contest on his debut at Newmarket this month. It looks a fanciful project, even if huge outsiders such as Terimon (second at 500-1 in 1989) have made the frame in the past. The evergreen John Egan, 55, is set to ride.
Trainer: Roger Varian. Best odds: 20-1.
Roger Varian tells Nick Lightfoot more about Eydon
Was a keeping-on fourth in the 2000 Guineas, having previously landed the Feilden Stakes in taking style. Gives the impression he will be suited by moving up in distance but his pedigree points to a mile-and-a-half being a bit of a stretch. Connections have also been mulling the French Derby over ten furlongs, although he satisfied them in a gallop at the course o Monday.
Andrew Cooper, clerk of the course, talks about ground conditions
Trainer: Andrew Oliver. Best odds: 100-1.
Cost just 3,000gns as a yearling but he offered some promise in three starts as a two-year-old and won a Curragh maiden on his return before chasing home Stone Age in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown, albeit being no match for the winner. You cannot blame connections for rolling the dice.
Trainer: Charlie Fellowes. Best odds: 66-1.
Began the year getting beaten in maiden company at Wolverhampton but he’s since raised his game, being beaten half a length in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom in April. The form of that muddling contest is not easy to assess, although United Nations (fourth) has since won the Derby Trial at Lingfeld.
HOO YA MAL
Trainer: Andrew Balding. Best odds: 200-1.
Decisive winner of last year’s Convivial at York last summer but merely a supporting act in the Craven and the Newmarket Stakes this term, beaten seven lengths by Nations Pride on the latter occasion. Difficult to see him making much impact, although trainer had a 50/1 shot finish second two years ago.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Best odds: 66-1.
The weakest link among the Ballydoyle contingent. Unable to make much impression in the Irish 2000 Guineas on his latest start, and the dam’s side of his pedigree also points to possible stamina limitations.
Trainer: William Haggas. Best odds: 50-1.
The son of 2008 Derby winner New Approach went into plenty of notebook when a runaway maiden winner at Newcastle at the end of April and stuck to his task when a close third to Lionel in Listed company at Goodwood last week. Type to progress again when his stamina is tested more fully but a surprise if he belatedly gives his trainer a second success after the victory of Shaamit in 1996.
Trainer: Andrew Balding. Best odds: 50-1.
His exploits as a two-year-old included a short-head defeat at the hands of Native Trail in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket but he’s not gone to the next level and was firmly in his place by Eydon in the Feilden Stakes on his return. Disconcertingly, with the hullabaloo of Derby Day in mind, he played up in the stalls and had to be withdrawn from the Dante last time.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Best odds: xxx.
Charlie Appleby talks about all his contenders
Tenacious winner of the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom and, while they ended up in a bit heap, the Frankel colt showed a good attitude dropping back in distance and United Nations (fourth) have the form a boost when subsequently scoring at Lingfield. There’s little doubt the chestnut will be well served by stepping back up in distance – loads of stamina on the dam’s side and his previous two wins had been over 1m 4f – although the St Leger may offer him his best chance of Classic glory. The Blue Riband Trial has rarely yielded the Derby winner, although Cracksman landed it in 2017 before finishing a close third in the main event.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Best odds: 10-1.
Likely to be supplemented next week provided his homework satisfies connections and Modern Games stays on course to contest the French Derby. He’s won his past four starts in commanding fashion – by an aggregate of more than 18 lengths – and was better than ever when running three rivals into submission in the Newmarket Stakes last time. The 1m 4f trip should be no problem and could be even better to come.
Trainer: Donnacha’Brien. Best odds: 8-1.
There was a sense of him mugging Buckaroo on his return in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown although a line through Bluegrass, who finished fourth, reads well enough in comparison with Desert Crown (Bluegrass subsequently finished about the same distance behind that horse in the Dante). Ulysess, the sire of Piz Badile, disappointed in the 2016 Derby and ultimately showed his best form over ten furlongs, although he was by a Derby winner (Galileo) out of an Oaks winner (Light Shift) so there is another family history to make Piz Badile worth a second look, with the services of Frankie Dettori already secured.
Trainer: Mark & Charlie Johnston. Best odds: 25-1.
Clawed back Coroebus in the Royal Lodge last year after wins at Epsom and York. Creditable sixth on his return in the 2000 Guineas but brushed aside by Desert Crown in the Dante last time. Difficult to see him turning the tables, especially with the longer trip not sure to suit.
SIR BOB PARKER
Trainer: David Menuisier. Best odds: 100-1.
He’s raced exclusively in France, bumping into two smart rivals when third behind Onesto and Agave in the Group Two Prix Greffulhe last time. Promises to be suited by the step up to 1m4f and interesting that his trainer left him at the latest forfeit stage, while removing Lionel, who he holds in high regard and has since won at Goodwood.
Trainer: Charlie Hills. Best odds: 50-1.
Looked a most exciting prospect when winning on his only start at Sandown last term. Not seen to best advantage in either of his races in Listed company this year – behind Eydon and then Star Of India – and it’s too early to be giving up on him, especially as his breeding offers hope he will stay a mile and a half. He’s clearly not the finished article just yet, but the type to outrun his odds.
STAR OF INDIA
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Best odds: 16-1.
Won in taking style on his only start last term and well on top at the finish when landing the Dee Stakes at Chester last time. In between, he made little impact behind Native Trail in the Craven, although little doubt he took a step forward upped in trip on his latest start and he’s got more to offer.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Best odds: 9-4 fav.
Aidan O’Brien discusses his Derby contenders with Donn McClean
Unable to win in five starts as a two-year-old although he was placed in Group One company. Returned this year with a runaway win in maiden company before pummelling the opposition in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time. That form performs lacks some depth, plus he got a softish lead, but no disputing his authority that day. Has bags of experience and seems sure to improve again for the step up to 1m4f, both on running style and breeding. At home forcing the pace but doubtful he needs to lead.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Best odds: 14-1.
Dug deep to beat Walk Of Life in the Lingfield Derby Trial last time, but the form of that four-run contest lacks depth and Natural World (third) let it down when subsequently being well held at Goodwood. United Nations had himself previously been fourth behind Nahanni at Epsom and, while he’s going the right way, others have stronger credentials.
WALK OF LIFE
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Best odds: 16-1.
Signed off last season with a decisive win in a maiden at Nottingham, although Desert Crown won the first division in a time 2 seconds quicker. Edged out Hafit on his return at Newbury (runner-up subsequently fluffed his lines at short odds in France) before being outmuscled close home United Nations at Lingfield last time, when he also hung right. Trainer believes he’s capable of better than he’s showed and he looks the part, but needs to grow up a bit?
WEST WIND BLOWS
Trainer: Simon & Ed Crisford. Best odds: 40-1.
Did well to win a maiden at Newcastle over Christmas before following up in taking style over 1m 2f at Nottingham this month – going off fast but turning away his pursuers when they loomed up to challenge. He’s well-bred and clearly got plenty of ability, although his trainer’s enthusiasm for him is tempered by the fact that he admits “if we can keep the lid on him”.
Trainer: Ralph Beckett. Best odds: 20-1.
The imposing son of Frankel was something of a work in progress last year and returned with a narrow victory from Cash, who is heading for the French Derby, and Goldspur in the Classic Trial at Sandown. The runner-up would have nabbed him in a few more strides, but Westover had been a little keen and, given his frame, perhaps also needed the run. He’s going to require more again but he appeals as the type to keep progressing. Beckett has twice landed the Oaks.