COUNTDOWN TO THE EPSOM DERBY MEETING FRIDAY JUNE 4th and SATURDAY JUNE 5th 2010
EPSOM DOWNS RACECOURSE COORDINATED CUT & CHAMPAGNE LIFESTYLE WORKED AT EPSOM DOWNS DURING BREAKFAST WITH THE STARS ON THURSDAY MORNING MAY 27th.
Breakfast With The Stars at Epsom Downs Racecourse, home of the world’s greatest race, the Investec Derby, today unfolded with two horses working at the course and many connections being interviewed eight days before the two-day 2010 Investec Derby Festival starts on Friday, June 4.
Coordinated Cut, trained by Michael Bell who sent Motivator out to win the Investec Derby in 2005, was due to have been ridden this morning by Investec Derby jockey Jamie Spencer in his work with stable companion Strong Vigilance, a maiden after three runs who is also owned by Lawrie Inman.
However, both Bell and Spencer were not able to leave Newmarket by helicopter this morning because of poor visibility and Ernie Johnson, who partnered the 1969 Derby winner Blakeney, was in the saddle instead.
The two three-year-olds started from the nine-furlong marker with Strong Vigilance setting a steady pace two lengths ahead of Coordinated Cut who got closer turning into the straight.
Coordinated Cut ranged up with a quarter-mile to go and led close to the finish without breaking into a sweat.
Bell said afterwards by phone: “Obviously, I would have liked to have been there at Epsom to watch the horse in action but what will be will be.
“He is a very nice horse, has a very good cruising speed and a very good temperament for a Montjeu horse. He is very easy to deal with and laid-back.
“I am hoping to get a bit of improvement out of him. I was probably too easy on him after he won the sales race at Newmarket in April as he blew very hard after finishing third in the Dante so I probably under-cooked him.
“So I am hoping for improvement fitness-wise and going over a bit further in the Investec Derby will also help him.
“We set out to win the Dante and I think he was just getting a bit lonely in the last furlong. A combination of looking around him and probably getting a bit tired did not help.
“Jamie feels that, ridden with more restraint, he would have been definitely done better in that race.
“Ridden slightly differently and fitness-wise, I hoping to get at least 6lb or 7lb of improvement out of him. Whether that is good enough to win the Derby is another matter, but we will find out on June 5.
“Nothing has yet put a mark on the race - it looks pretty open. I think our horse will run a big race. I am not saying he is going to win it but I think he will run very well.”
Bell will also be represented at the Investec Derby Festival by Sariska, last year’s Investec Oaks winner, in the Group One Investec Coronation Cup on Friday, June 4.
Bell remarked: “Sariska is in fantastic form and looks a picture. She is moving very well and did a very, very impressive bit of work last week. I am really sweet on her.”
Champagnelifestyle, trained by Barry Hills and leased by a 20-strong syndicate connected with the Racehorse Owners Association called Champagne Fridays, worked over 10 furlongs, also under Ernie Johnson.
An unraced filly by Rainbow Quest called Maroon was the work companion of this Investec Oaks hope.
Again a modest pace was set, and Champagnelifestyle cruised up to Maroon in the straight but Johnson did not want to go ahead and the two fillies finished upsides at the winning post.
Charlie Hills, assistant trainer and son of Barry, attended and commented: “We are absolutely delighted with her.
“Ernie took her over a mile and a quarter and was very happy with her. She will probably have one more piece of work before the Investec Oaks.”
Ernie Johnson added: “Coordinated Cut has a good temperament and is very professional. Champagnelifestyle went around the course well too.”
Clare Balding, who hosted Breakfast With The Stars, attended by 300 media and Epsom Downs annual members, went to Ballydoyle on Tuesday and interviewed Aidan O’Brien who trains the top four in totesport’s ante-post market for the Investec Derby.
The trainer indicated then that St Nicholas Abbey and Midas Touch are almost certain to run in the Investec Derby, with Jan Vermeer and Cape Blanco possibles at the moment, with the latter two having the Prix du Jockey Club, the French Derby on June 6, as the alternative but no firm decisions will be made until next week.
O’Brien retains faith in St Nicholas Abbey, who finished sixth when the evens favourite in the first British colts’ Classic, the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1, despite Jan Vermeer being the best-backed colt with totesport in recent days for the Investec Derby.
Ireland’s champion trainer said: “They are all exciting horses. St Nicholas Abbey was a very good two-year-old and the impressive winner of the Racing Post Trophy.
“Things did not work out for him in the Guineas - at the time our horses were running a bit in and out and he jumped, travelled a bit too strongly and got a bump from Frankie’s (Dettori) horse after 50 yards and just went into top gear. Johnny (Murtagh) just could not get him out of that gear. The whole thing was a bit of a mess really.
“Jan Vermeer was very impressive at the Curragh and Johnny was very happy with him. Cape Blanco won very easily on fast ground at York. He caught the back of his heel and was very sore afterwards but it was just a superficial. He has been fine since. Midas Touch ran well to win the Derrinstown trial and it was always intended to go to Epsom with him.
“The whole of Thoroughbred breeding is about the Derby - that is what everybody wants to breed - the Derby winner.
“All these horses are bred, fed and reared to run in the race and if they come through the trials it is very hard on the horse and its pedigree plus the owners and breeders to say don’t run in the Derby.
“We all know that there is only one Epsom Derby a year and it is all about the piece of timber (the winning post). We are in the lucky position this year to have a nice team of horses and the French Derby is the following day. The lads will make that decision - that is what they run their whole business on, winning those big races - and are entitled to split them up whichever way they want after talking to me, Johnny and everybody else involved.
“In an ideal world, we would love to have pacemakers supplied by the Jockey Club or the (Irish) Turf Club and they go an even pace and the field follows. The race unfolds genuinely and everybody gets a fair run and the best horse wins - leaving everybody happy. We are happy to get beat if the pace is even and level.”
Fame And Glory, last year’s Investec Derby second to Sea The Stars, is ante-post favourite with totesport for the Investec Coronation Cup (June 4) at 7/4, with Sariska a 2/1 chance.
O’Brien said: “Fame And Glory met a great horse in last year’s Derby. In an ideal world, we would have preferred an even stronger gallop that day. He is a great horse and I am looking forward to him running in the Coronation Cup.”
Trainer Henry Cecil has a strong hand in the Epsom Downs Classics this year, with Bullet Train in the Investec Derby plus Aviate and Timepiece for the Investec Oaks.
Speaking from Newmarket by phone, Cecil declared: “Bullet Train is a horse who is improving. He is very tough, gets the trip and I think he will act on the course.
“He does not do much at home, being laid-back and lazy. He is coming on race by race.
“Looking at the Derby at the moment, it is reasonably open and he deserves to take his chance. I think he will definitely get a mile and half and hopefully with a bit of speed left at the end.
“He has been trained with the Derby in mind ever since he won at Lingfield. He will improve for that race and do himself justice. I would like him to have a handy position in the race - he does not mind being up there - and then he can work his way into it in the straight.
“I have been enjoying the way of life for the last couple of years and long may it continue.”
Timepiece finished second in the totesportcasino.com Oaks Trial at Lingfield on May 8.
He said: “The trial I think rightly or wrongly was a funny race - they went too fast early on. I am going to have her ridden differently this time. I think she has a lot of ability.
“I think probably that Tom Queally will ride Aviate and Eddie Ahern Timepiece - he has won on her.
“Aviate is improving the whole time - she is unbeaten. Being out of that family, she has a touch of Nijinsky on the dam’s side and I think she will stay.
“Looking at the race at York, they went slowly and Aviate was in a pocket and then they quickened up. She was caught slightly flat-footed and took a bit of time to really pick herself up - that you gives you the feeling that she will be suited by a longer distance.
“The Oaks, like the Derby, looks quite open. I am not saying I am going to win it but at this stage I am very happy with the two I have got.”
Lord Grimthorpe, owner Khalid Abdulla’s racing manager, attended Breakfast With The Stars.
He commented: “Workforce will run in the Investec Derby with an Australian noseband. He is certainly on an upward curve. He is a great big horse by King’s Best. Nothing seems to bother him at all - temperament wise he is solid.
“I think there is a still a great deal of improvement in Workforce. At York it took him a while to get organised and Ryan (Moore) went to pull him out and the bit came through his mouth. He certainly was not going to win there but he would have run nearer than he did,
“Bullet Train is a very Sadler’s Wells to look at - he is related closely to Powerscourt. He has got to improve. When there was no pace, the plan was to go on anyway at Lingfield. I was very pleased with the way he put the race to bed.
“Henry (Cecil with eight victories in the Classic) has got quite a good record in the Oaks! Henry has always had a soft spot for Timepiece. She has to improve though.
“Aviate was always going to be a bit of a dark horse and has come through the ranks. When she got out of trouble in the Musidora at York, it was quite exciting as she really was in trouble. She slotted right into the gap when it appeared and I think that augurs well.
“Aviate is solid - unbeaten in three races - and is pretty straightforward but Timepiece is a bit unknown yet this season. Timepiece worked on the Limekilns at Newmarket before Lingfield and she worked all over Bullet Train - I thought something was wrong with him. So going into Lingfield, we were pretty excited by Timepiece. It didn’t quite work out and maybe she will be a nice surprise.
“Workforce has the potential to be very exciting, he is going to come on later in the year, and I have always had a strong feeling for Aviate.”
Sir Michael Stoute, not able to travel from Newmarket, said over the phone: “Workforce does not worry about much - he is pretty laid-back. We have put on an Australian noseband as a precaution - hopefully the bit coming through his mouth last time was a one-off.
“He is a bit short of experience and is just workmanlike at home which was also the case last year. He won very well on his one start last year.
“I was sorry not to be able to give him two races before the Derby because that was the initial plan but he just did not come to himself during the spring we had.
“He is a big progressive sort of horse, 16.2 hands. He has plenty of talent. He does not tell us a much at home but he is very well.”
Simon Crisford of Godolphin was another on the phone. He confirmed that Rewilding is set to be supplemented to the 2010 Investec Derby at a cost of £75,000 on Monday but Simon De Montfort probably will not be - with the French Derby a more likely destination.
He said: “We are definitely going to supplement Rewilding - he was very impressive when he won at Goodwood and we think he ticks all the boxes.
“He has got a great temperament - he appears to be bomb-proof - he definitely stays the mile and a half and he has plenty of class as well. Whether he has got enough class to win the Derby we will find out a week on Saturday.
“The big thing with him is that he seems to be improving. He took his race at Goodwood really well - he handled the track and the undulations so we are going to Epsom full of hope for a nice run.
“Al Zir and Rewilding have a bit more work to do before the Derby and jockeys will be decided next week. It is quite likely that Frankie (Dettori) will stay on Rewilding - they got on pretty well at Goodwood.
“Frankie wants to sit on Al Zir tomorrow and, after he has ridden him, we will all be bit wiser.
“Al Zir was a bit disappointing in the 2,000 Guineas. We went there thinking he had a chance and Frankie felt that slow pace did not help him at all. Al Zir went OK but it was not as good as we were hoping for. We did learn from the race that he definitely wants a longer trip.
“A mile and half might be too far - we don’t know - but a mile and quarter would definitely be his optimum trip right now and he might stay a bit further.
“Chabal will be left in the Derby on Monday. We will see what the weather does. But it does not appear that it will rain enough to give him a realistic chance. The ground at York was really quick and he did not like it at all. He might be rerouted to France or wait for a while.
“Simon De Montfort will do a bit of work at the weekend and we will make a final decision about whether he goes to France or is supplemented to the Derby after that. I think he is more likely to go for the Prix du Jockey Club.
“I think Cavalryman will be our representative in the Investec Coronation Cup. He ran well in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March and Epsom will probably suit him.”
Ted Spread is a 33/1 chance for the Investec Derby with totesport, official betting partner of Epsom Downs Racecourse.
His trainer Mark Tompkins, interviewed over the phone, said: “The more rain the better for Ted Spread, but as long as it is good ground I will be happy.
“We said over the winter that we thought he was more a St Leger horse. We went to Chester because of the ground and once he won that the Derby became a target.
“He is similar to Bob’s Return and the quicker they go the better it will be for him in the Derby. Hopefully, he won’t disgrace himself.
“I think Daryll Holland a broke collar-bone last night and we’ve had a few phone calls this morning. I would love to have Kieren (Fallon) if he was available.
“Ted Spread has plenty of ability and will come on four or five lengths for Chester. If it came up soft and they went quick enough, I would hope he could finish fourth or fifth.”
John Gosden, who sent out Benny The Dip to win the Derby in 1997, runs Azmeel this year.
The Newmarket trainer, speaking in a telephone interview, said today: “He very much needed the race in the Sandown Classic Trial and I made no secret that I had a difficult winter with him.
“Azmeel very much blew up at the one and a half furlong pole. He came on and won the Dee Stakes at Chester. The race was not really run to suit him as he got pushed back with five furlongs to run. He split horses and won in nice style, going away to win perhaps a shade cosily.
“He has done well since then and pleased me in his work at home. Running around Chester always helps handling the bends at Epsom.
“The standard of the Derby is pretty high and I certainly feel that Aidan (O’Brien) holds the aces and it is just a question of how he plays his cards.
“William (Buick) will ride Azmeel all being well. He has probably watched enough Derbys and seen enough. The one thing you want in a Derby is a horse that has natural speed to get in the position that you want to be, a nice cruising speed and is able to stay the trip.
“Gertrude Bell will stay the trip well in the Investec Oaks. It was slow-run race at Chester and she won but it was not the way she likes to race.”
Marcus Tregoning trains Rumoush, the 9/2 joint favourite with totesport for the Investec Oaks.
The trainer told Breakfast With The Stars in a telephone interview: “She worked very well at Lingfield yesterday over a mile and a quarter.
“I jus wanted her to come down the hill there and give her more experience. She came out of it well.
“I think she would have been in the frame in the 1000 Guineas but for the draw, 18 of 18.
“She has got to get the trip. I trained her half-brother Mawatheeq who is by Danzig, more and influence for speed, and he was very effective over both a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half. So I am hopeful, being by Rahy, that she will stay a mile and a half too.
“She has a reasonably relaxed way of going and a good kick at the end.”
Jim Bolger is another trainer hoping to saddle the Investec Oaks winner. He will rely on Akdarena rather than Gile Na Greine.
The Irish-based handler said today over the phone: “We hope she will stay the trip - she wasn’t stopping when she won at Naas. Kevin (Manning) set a strong pace there on her - the further they went, the better she seemed to be going. We are plenty happy that she will stay well.
“She doesn’t have to make the running as long as there is a decent pace and we will play it by ear. It was a good performance at Naas, winning by seven lengths.
“I would say that betting at the moment indicates very well the level of ability of the first six contenders (Akdarena is a 10/1 chance with totesport) and I am hoping we are thereabouts.”
Andrew Cooper, Clerk of the Course and Director of Racing at Epsom Downs Racecourse, had news of the ground.
He said: “I am very happy with the state of the ground. I would describe the going as good at the moment. We had about two millimetres of rain this morning which has helped.
“The course is in lovely condition, though it has been late coming this year. I walked the course on Tuesday and for the first time I felt it was getting there in terms of its cover and condition.
“We have had a difficult spring but are getting to just about where we want the ground to be. The recent hot weather has brought the grass on.
“In terms of irrigation, we will not do anything here until we have got Saturday out of the way. The next chance of rain is on Saturday though I sense we will not get as much as once thought.
“We can sit back for the time being before getting some up to date information on what the weather will be like next week.
“We would water on the morning of the Thursday (the day before the Investec Derby Festival starts) if we felt it was appropriate.
“One thing I have always avoided here, having had a bad experience at a quieter two-day meeting, is watering overnight - it was disaster.
“Any watering will be done and dusted before the meeting starts - I have never watered between the two days of the Investec Derby Festival and I don’t intend to start.
“I am open minded about watering next week. Our aim is to ensure that by the time we get to 4pm on Saturday afternoon (June 5), the Investec Derby is not run on ground any quicker than good to firm.”
For further information, please contact:
Rupert Trevelyan, Managing Director at Epsom Downs Racecourse, on 01372 726311
Andrew Cooper, Director of Racing at Epsom Downs Racecourse, on 07774 230850
Johnno Spence at JSC Sport on 07860 583307