The build-up to the 2018 Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs intensifies this week with recognised trials on both sides of the Irish Sea at Chester, Lingfield Park and Leopardstown.
Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore partners Sue Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, who are already responsible for unbeaten Investec Derby favourite Saxon Warrior, who was bred in Japan and is by Deep Impact, will be strongly represented in all the trials.
Saxon Warrior, the Evens market leader with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, returned to action this year with a dominant victory in the first British Classic, the G1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket on May 5.
O’Brien saddles favourite Hunting Horn (Ryan Moore), Flag Of Honour (Seamie Heffernan) and Family Tree (Donnacha O’Brien) as he bids for his sixth straight win intomorrow’s G3 MBNA Chester Vase (3.35pm, 1m 4f 63y), the highlight on the opening day of Chester’s three-day Boodles May Festival.
The opposition includes impressive Newbury scorer Young Rascal (William Haggas/James Doyle), owned by Investec Managing Director Bernard Kantor, Godolphin’s Ispolini (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) who finished one place ahead of Hunting Horn when going down by a short-head to Sevenna Star in the G3 bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 27, and Dee Ex Bee (Mark Johnston/Franny Norton) who gained a wildcard entry for the Investec Derby when winning the totepool Conditions race at Epsom Downs on October 1.
Ruler Of The World won the Chester Vase in 2013 on route to Investec Derby glory, while Wings Of Eagles finished second to stable companion Venice Beach last year before going one better at Epsom Downs. The 10 declared runners for the Chester Vase tomorrow all have entries for the Investec Derby, the premier Classic and Britain’s richest race at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 2.
Investec Oaks contenders go on trial tomorrow in the Listed Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks (1m 3f 65y), with the Ralph Beckett-trained unbeaten Nottingham maiden scorerKinaesthesia and Magic Wand (Aidan O’Brien IRE) vying for favouritism in the 10-runner field. The fillies’ Classic at Epsom Downs, staged over a mile and a half like the Investec Derby, takes place on Friday, June 1, Investec Ladies Day.
My Lord And Master (William Haggas/Danny Tudhope), the head runner-up to Crossed Baton in Listed Investec Blue Riband Trial at Epsom Downs on April 25, faces seven rivals in the Listed Homeserve Dee Stakes (1m 2f 70y) at Chester on Thursday, May 10. Rostropovich (Ryan Moore) and Kenya (Donnacha O’Brien), both successful at Group level last season for O’Brien, also run. Those three have Investec Derby entries.
Lingfield Park stages its most prestigious turf raceday of the year this Saturday, May 12, featuring the Listed Betfred Derby Trial Stakes and Listed Betfred Mobile Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes, both over just shy of a mile and a half.
Yorkshire-based trainer Karl Burke is set to be represented by the progressive Wax And Wane, who won two of his three starts last year, in the Derby Trial Stakes.
The three-year-old Maxios colt, owned by Tim Dykes, was a game three quarters of a length winner of a maiden over a mile at Carlisle in September before justifying favouritism by a length and three quarters at Ayr over the same distance in a novice contest in October, with both run on heavy going.
Libertarian, trained by Burke’s wife Elaine, finished a fine second in the 2013 Investec Derby behind O’Brien’s Ruler Of The World.
Wax And Wane is a 66/1 chance with Unibet for Britain’s premier Classic at Epsom Downs on June 2.
Burke, who trains at Spigot Lodge in North Yorkshire, explained today: “Wax And Wane is in really good form at home and it looks as if he is definitely going to go to Lingfield Park on Saturday.
“He won both of his starts on heavy going last season so we would prefer some ease in the ground, but given the way the weather is currently, it doesn’t look like he is going to get that.
“Lingfield could get some showers later in the week and that would help but, whatever the conditions, we are going to run.
“He is a lovely horse who has progressed really well physically over the winter. We want to get a run into him and this race fits nicely in the calendar.
“He did well to win twice as a two-year-old as he was very backward, so we were really pleased with his progression last year.
“To win twice on heavy ground in particular was also impressive for a horse so inexperienced and it did make it clear to us that he does like cut in the ground.
“His victories came over a mile, but he is definitely a horse who will improve for the step up in trip and we see him as a middle distance horse – that’s where we see him running from now on.
“He isn’t a real work horse at home as he is very lazy, but he is very well in himself.
“He is entered in the Investec Derby and we will know more about where we stand with him after Saturday.”
Wax And Wane is on course to clash with several other Investec Derby aspirants, notably Newmarket maiden winner Knight To Behold (Harry Dunlop), Listed scorerKew Gardens (Aidan O’Brien IRE) and recent Yarmouth victor Corelli (John Gosden).
The G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (12 entries) takes centre stage at Leopardstown, Ireland, this Sunday, May 13 – Sinndar (2000), Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) all won the 10-furlong contest before going on to Classic glory at Epsom Downs.
This year’s race is set to feature the O’Brien-trained trio of Nelson, Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon, who filled the first three places in the G3 Ballysax Stakes over the same course and distance on April 14.
Earlier today, Investec Derby entry Study Of Man (Pascal Bary FR/ Stephane Pasquier), another Deep Impact colt, made short work of his three rivals in the G2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud, France, when quickening clear to win by three and a half lengths.
The trials’ season continues next week at York with the G2 Betfred Dante Stakes (Thursday, May 17) and G3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Wednesday, May 16).
The final entry stage for the Investec Derby is at the five-day confirmation stage onMonday, May 28, when horses can be supplemented at a cost of £85,000.
Investec Derby, latest odds from Unibet:
Evens Saxon Warrior
12/1 The Pentagon, Nelson
14/1 Ghaiyyath, Masar
18/1 Roaring Lion, Delano Roosevelt
25/1 Without Parole, Crossed Baton, Study Of Man, Hunting Horn, Sevenna Star, Verbal Dexterity
28/1 Kew Gardens, Ispolini, Proschema, Herculean
33/1 Rabdan, Flag Of Honour, James Cook, Family Tree, My Lord And Master, Loxley, Emaraaty
40/1 Glorious Journey, Near Gold, Gardens Of Babylon, Latrobe, Marechal Ney, Photographer, Wells Farhh Go, Willie John, Dee Ex Bee, Cascadian, Young Rascal, Showroom
50/1 Knight To Behold, Conclusion, Glencadam Master, Hazapour, Cypress Creek, Deyaarna, Alternative Fact, Zucchini. Wafy, House Edge, The King, Being There, Corelli, The Revenant, Wadilsafa, Al Muffrih, Loveisili, Theobald
66/1 Giuseppe Garibaldi, Occupy, Rostropovich, Thrave, Military Law, King And Empire,
Stephensons Rocket, Surya, Elector, Centroid, Lucius Tiberius, Baliyad, Brundtland, Coolongolook, Corgi, Dream Warrior, Freetown, Global Giant, Howman, National Security, Perfect Illusion, Prepare For Battle, Prizering, Shareef Star, Tenedos, Wajaaha, Wax And Wane, White Mocha, Sir Erec, Zabriskie, Crimson Mystery, Sharja Silk, Christopher Robin, Bombyx, Jetstream, Laughing Stranger, Recordman, Sharp Suited, Silver Quartz, Loyal Promise
80/1 Msayyan, In Demand
100/1 Gustav Klimt, Sextant, Cacophonous, Caliburn, Commonwealth, Dress Coat, Dubhe, Dukhan, Ebadali, Full Moon, Hazarfan, High Mounte, Monoxide, Mount Ararat, Muzaawel, Real Madrid, Regal Director, Sarim, Seat Of Power, Bedouins Story, Hasanabad, Stella Doro, Subjudice, Ostilio, Miles Christianus