Safety in numbers for John Gosden in Investec Derby
2 Jun 2017
Trainer will saddle five runners in the premier Classic including leading hope Cracksman
Frankie Dettori and Golden Horn and lead home the Derby field for Gosden two years ago. Picture: Racingfotos.com
John Gosden will field five of the 19 runners in the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday.
Gosden, successful with Benny The Dip in 1997 and Golden Horn in 2015, will saddle Cracksman, Crowned Eagle, Glencadam Glory, Khalidi and Pealer in the QIPCO British Champions Series showpiece.
He has never previous saddled more than two runners in the race, going back 25 years, but has discounted training the first five home, as Michael Dickinson famously did in the 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup. “I think that’s beyond remote,” he said.
The two-time champion trainer added: “It’s an open race. Obviously, Cracksman is our best chance – he’s done nothing wrong. He got pocketed at Epsom [in April] but picked up a nice horse [Permian] who was racefit and streetwise.
“It would have been nice if he could have run at York [in the Dante] but I didn’t fancy running him just 16 days out from the Derby on testing ground. He’s been in good order since he worked at Breakfast With The Stars at Epsom last week and he goes there with a legitimate each-way chance. His form is very solid through the Dante and such like.”
Regarding his other quartet, he said: “They represent different owners and they are all keen to run and be part of it. It’s one of those years where you shouldn’t be frightened of running.
“The owner of Khalidi [who won the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood last week] phoned me on Sunday and said he wanted to supplement. It’s only eight days between the races but he wanted to do it and that’s fine. Glencadam Glory ran a very nice race [when second to Best Solution] at Lingfield. The other two horses are bred to stay and both come off winning runs so they deserve to take their chance.”
Pealer galloped with Cracksman at Epsom last week and Gosden said: “He’s been doing everything right. He’s been a little frustrating to own because he has a habit of holding his breath but he seems to be getting the point of breathing now.”
Aidan O’Brien is seeking a sixth victory after the previous triumphs of Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013) and Australia (2014). Cliffs Of Moher, the Dee Stakes winner, is regarded as his principal hope and is joined by Capri, Douglas Macarthur, The Anvil, Venice Beach and Wings Of Eagles.
Joseph O’Brien, son of Aidan, will become only the fifth person in the 237-year history of the race to ride and train a Derby winner should Rekindling, who finished fourth in the Dante last time, take the spoils.
O’Brien Jr won two Derbys (on Ruler Of The World and Camelot) and would become the first since Harry Wragg, in 1961, to achieve the double. Matt Stephenson, John Forth and Robert Sherwood also both rode and trained a Derby winner.
Saaed Bin Suroor won the Derby with his first runner in the race, Lammtarra, in 1995 but his subsequent 21 runners in it have all been beaten. On Saturday he runs the Godolphin-owned trio of Benbatl, the Dante runner-up, Best Solution, the Lingfield Derby Trial winner, and Dubai Thunder, runaway winner of a maiden on his belated debut at Newbury on May 19.
Dubai Thunder bids to emulate Morston, who in 1973 also made a winning debut the month before the big race before following up in it at 25-1.
Sheikh Mohammed, founder of Godolphin, will also be keeping a close eye on Permian, the Dante winner, who is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum, his second eldest son.
Eminent and Salouen will be first runners in th Derby for their respective traners, while Diore Lia, a filly yet to lose her maiden tag, completes the field.