Derby update: Ed Dunlop feels the pressure with John Leeper, named after trainer’s late father

Horse Racing John Dunlop Ed Dunlop trainers John Leeper goes for Derby
Ed Dunlop with late father John Dunlop, whose namesake John Leeper contests the Cazoo Derby. Photo: Qipco British Champions Series

By Qipco British Champions Series

GB: Trainer Ed Dunlop is dreaming of a poignant victory for his family and owner Cristina Patino in the Cazoo Derby with the colt John Leeper, named after his late father.

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The Newmarket-based trainer sends the exciting colt to Epsom 27 years after Erhaab clinched the second of John Dunlop’s two Derby winners. Dunlop snr also won the Classic with Shirley Heights in 1978.

And Ed Dunlop admitted he does feel a small, extra weight of pressure on his shoulders, with the son of Frankel named by the owner in honour of his father, whose full name was John Leeper Dunlop.

“My father won the Derby twice and was champion trainer, so to train a horse after his name, of course it puts some pressure on,” Dunlop said.

“The horse has no idea it’s his name probably, he’s nicknamed Johnny in the yard. So there is a bit more pressure, but good pressure.

“One dreams as a trainer to train a Classic winner in England and none more than the Derby coming up. The best we’ve done is finish fifth and it would be truly great if we could do better than that.”

Dunlop won the Oaks in 2010 with Snow Fairy, the dam of John Leeper, who was also owned by Patino and carried the same yellow and red colours.

The owner has further demonstrated her loyalty to the Dunlop family with this horse’s name and the trainer believes his father would have been “very honoured, probably very embarrassed and quite amused” with the horse’s success.

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He said: “The owner, Mrs Patino, deserves an enormous mention. If it wasn’t for her, the horse wouldn’t be here. She had horses with my father (John) for many, many years and kindly sent me a horse or two, of which relatively early on one of them was Snow Fairy.

“Sadly, my father died and this colt was born. She asked permission to name it after my father, by which I think he would have been very honoured, probably very embarrassed and quite amused now. It’s a lovely story but it’s totally due to her.”

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