The first Classics of the season are staged this weekend with the QIPCO 2000 Guineas (Saturday, May 6) and QIPCO 1000 Guineas (Sunday, May 7) taking place at Newmarket.
The mile contests could provide significant clues for both the £1.5 million Investec Derby (Saturday, June 3), Britain’s richest race, and the £500,000 Investec Oaks (Friday, June 2) which are run over four furlongs further at Epsom Downs.
Of the 12 five-day acceptors for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, three currently hold Investec Derby entries. They are headed by last year’s champion two-year-oldChurchill (Aidan O’Brien), who ended 2016 by winning the G1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and Newmarket’s G1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes. The son of Galileo currently heads the ante-post market with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, for both Classics – he is a 13/8 chance for glory at Newmarket and 6/1 for victory in the Investec Derby.
Eminent (Martyn Meade) is an unbeaten son of Frankel who made a very impressive start to 2017 when taking the G3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket over a mile on April 20. He is a 5/1 chance for 2000 Guineas glory and 10/1 co second favourite with Unibet for the Investec Derby.
The third horse to hold entries for both Classics is Rivet (William Haggas), last season’s G1 Racing Post Trophy scorer. The Fastnet Rock colt is owned by a syndicate including nine-time Investec Derby-winning jockey Lester Piggott and was runner-up to Eminent in the Craven Stakes.
A total of 37 colts have won both the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and Investec Derby, the latest being the Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot in 2012.
There could also be Investec Derby clues on Saturday in the Listed Havana Gold Newmarket Stakes over a mile and a quarter, which has been won by subsequent Epsom Downs heroes Slip Anchor (1985) and Shirley Heights (1978). Of the 13 entries, five hold Investec Derby entries including eye-catching maiden winners Zamfir(Charlie Appleby) and Count Octave (Andrew Balding).
Last year, Minding became the 48th filly to win both the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and the Investec Oaks and seven of the 18 confirmations for Sunday’s Newmarket Classic are also entered in the Investec Oaks. They are headed by Aidan O’Brien-trained pair ofRhododendron and Hydrangea, who were first and second respectively in the G1 Dubai Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in 2016, as well as Intricately (Joseph O’Brien), who gave her trainer a first G1 success when getting the better of Hydrangea in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh. Impressive Newmarket maiden winner on her only start, Talaayeb (Owen Burrows), is another eye-catching contender entered in both Classics.
Dual Investec Oaks-winning trainer Ralph Beckett could be represented by Isabel De Urbina and Camerone in the Listed Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes (4.45pm, 12 entries) over 10 furlongs at Newmarket on Sunday.
Isabel De Urbina justified market confidence on debut in a maiden at Ffos Las in September, while Camerone was successful on her second start in a mile maiden at Brighton the following month. Both fillies hold Investec Oaks entries.
Talent captured the Listed 10-furlong contest for Beckett in 2013 prior to leading home an Investec Oaks one-two for the stable at Epsom Downs.
Beckett said today: “Isabel De Urbina worked this morning and I would say she is likely to start off in the Pretty Polly.
“She is stepping up in trip and we will find out more on Sunday.
“Camerone is a possible for Newmarket as well, although she could wait for Lingfield the following week.”
Entries for the Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes also include fellow Investec Oaks aspirants, Listed Montrose Fillies’ Stakes third Tansholpan (Roger Varian) and Horseplay (Andrew Balding), a 13-length winner on her second start at Nottingham, plus once-raced maiden winners Astronomy’s Choice, Precious Ramotswe (both John Gosden) and The Sky Is Blazing (William Haggas).
About Epsom Downs Racecourse & the Investec Derby Festival
Epsom Downs Racecourse is situated on the North Downs in Surrey, some 15 miles from central London.
Epsom is a historic training centre and home to a number of racing stables.
The racecourse is the venue for the greatest Flat race in the world, the Group One Investec Derby, which is now in its 238th year and takes place on the first Saturday in June every year.
The Investec Derby Festival also features the Investec Oaks and the Investec Coronation Cup, both also run over the Derby course of one mile and four furlongs for fillies and older horses respectively.
The Investec Derby and Investec Oaks, two of the five British Classics, are for three-year-olds, with the former open to colts and fillies and the latter to fillies.
Investec started sponsoring the Investec Derby Festival in 2009 and will continue to sponsor the event until 2021.
The 2017 Investec Derby Festival is staged on Friday and Saturday, June 2 & 3, while the 2018 dates are June 1 & 2. More information is available at: www.epsomderby.co.uk