GB: Even by his own standards, record Derby-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien is keeping his options open ahead of this year’s Investec-sponsored Classic, for which he has no fewer than 47 of the remaining 139 entries after the latest scratchings deadline.
That figure represents over a third of the total – and it rises to 55 (or nearly 40%) when the O’Brien family as a whole is taken into consideration, with four entries each for Aidan O’Brien’s sons Joseph, who rode Camelot (2012) and Australia (2014) to Investec Derby success, and Donnacha, who landed the 2018 Investec Oaks on Forever Together and commenced his training career at the end of 2019.
Aidan O’Brien registered a record-equalling seventh Investec Derby victory in 2019 courtesy of Anthony Van Dyck. A formidable team for 2020 includes includes Innisfree, Year Of The Tiger and Mogul, who filled the places in that order behind Kameko (Andrew Balding) in the rearranged G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle in November. The G1 National Stakes runner-up Armory and G2 Royal Lodge Stakes victor Royal Dornoch are also engaged for the Ballydoyle trainer.
The overall total of 139 horses still engaged in the world’s premier Classic on Saturday June 6 is up from 96 at the same stage 12 months ago for a 43% increase in numbers.
The 241st running of the premier Classic takes place on the second day of the Investec Derby Festival and carries a total prize fund of at least £1.5 million, making it the most valuable race run in Britain.
Those remaining in the race were all entered as yearlings in December 2018. There is a £9,000 second entry stage on Tuesday April 7 and an £85,000 supplementary entry stage on Monday June 1.
After his spectacular two-year-old campaign, Godolphin’s Pinatubo (Charlie Appleby) is the 7-1 favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, although he does not currently hold an entry.
Britain’s champion trainer John Gosden, successful with Benny The Dip (1997) and Golden Horn (2015), has the hugely exciting Waldkonig among his 16 contenders.
A half-brother to last year’s Arc de Triomphe winner Waldgeist, the Kingman colt could not have been more impressive on debut at Wolverhampton in December. Gosden’s team also features Newmarket maiden winner Tuscan Gaze and Darain, who is an unraced full-brother to multiple G1 scorer Too Darn Hot.
Sir Michael Stoute enjoyed the most recent of his five Investec Derby triumphs in 2010 with Workforce. The Newmarket handler’s four entries are led by unbeaten pair Highest Ground and Satono Japan, who made eyecatching debuts at Leicester and Kempton Park respectively at the backend of last season.
Hughie Morrison has two promising colts in Starcat and Kipps. The former won a well-contested novice race first time out at Kempton Park on 11 December, while the latter was off the mark at the second attempt in a similar contest over 1m2f furlongs at Lingfield Park on December 28.
“Starcat and Kipps are two nice horses,” said Morrison. “Starcat won nicely on his debut at Kempton. I am not sure he is a horse who will stay a mile and a half, but hopefully he has a nice future ahead of him.
“Kipps is a lovely horse and I was pleased with his victory last time out. He could potentially head for the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom in April as a starting point. He looks exciting as he should enjoy that trip.
“Both horses are working well and hopefully they can have a good campaign.”
The three fillies going forward include Do You Love Me (Karl Burke), an unraced full-sister to 2018 Oaks heroine Forever Together who cost €3.2m at the Goffs Orby Sale in 2018.
Investec Derby betting
Unibet: 7 Pinatubo, 12 Kameko, Mogul, 14 Waldkonig, 16 Military March, 20 Innisfree, Palace Pier, 25 Armory, Year Of The Tiger, 33 bar.
Find out more about the Investec Derby festival at the Epsom website