Twelve colts will line-up for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, England, on Saturday with the Premier Classic the feature race on Day 2 of the Cazoo Derby Festival.
Record eight time Cazoo Derby-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien, who had mentioned earlier this week that he may have as many as six runners in the race, now only relies on the race favourite Bolshoi Ballet to deliver him another victory in the 1 mile 4 furlong race.
It was Bolshoi Ballet’s sire Galileo that gave O’Brien his first Cazoo Derby triumph when winning on Epsom Downs twenty years ago. Galileo has since gone on to sire the winner of the race on five occasions.
Bolshoi Ballet, out of the Anabaa mare Alta Anna, has been top of the betting market since impressively winning the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Leopardstown. Prior to that, the colt had taken the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes over the same distance.
“I am very happy with him, everything has gone well so far,” stated Aidan O’Brien this week. “He started off at Leopardstown in the Ballysax Stakes and we were very happy with him. He then went to the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and we were very happy with him in that as well and he seems to be in good form.”
Describing the race favourite as “a very well balanced horse”, his conditioner added “He seems to get the mile and quarter very well and he is very relaxed, very off-handed, and tactically he is very easy to place in a race. We always thought middle distances wouldn’t be a problem to him. Obviously you are never sure until you run over the mile and a half, but we always thought he would stay.”
Multiple-time Irish champion flat jockey Michael Kinane, the man who won the 2001 Cazoo Derby on Bolshoi Ballet’s sire, Galileo, has described the Coolmore-owned colt as possessing “the perfect mind-set” to win on Saturday.
According to the former Ballydoyle No. 1 rider and three time Epsom Derby winning jockey (Kinane also won with Commander In Chief (1993) and Sea The Stars (2009)):
“Bolshoi Ballet has taken the route Galileo took all those years ago by taking in both the Ballysax and Derrinstown, which are strong Epsom trials. He looks like a very easy horse for Ryan (Moore) to ride. He can ride him in front, he can drop him in. The horse seems to be happy with whatever he wants to do. He seems to be a very intelligent horse and the type of horse you would love on your side at Epsom.”
Bolshoi Ballet is one of three Irish-trained runners in the Cazoo Derby, the others being Mac Swiney and Southern Lights.
Mac Swiney was a recent winner of the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas over a mile at The Curragh for his 79-year-old handler Jim Bolger. That day Mac Swiney was ridden by Rory Cleary who was winning his first Classic, but will be reunited with Bolger’s son-in-law and top stable jockey Kevin Manning this weekend.
Named after the former Lord Mayor of Cork Terence Mac Swiney who died in October 1920 after a 74-day hunger strike, the son of the Bolger-bred sire New Approach won the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster last October, the weekend of Terence Mac Swiney’s anniversary.
With rain falling most of the day at Epsom on Friday, the soft ground should suit Mac Swiney, as he won his latest race at The Curragh on soft to heavy ground.
The third Irish-handled runner in the race is trained by Joseph O’Brien, son of Aidan. Southern Lights, by another former Epsom Derby winner in Sea The Stars. Southern Lights is a one-time winner from three career starts and will be ridden by Declan McDonagh.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby, who won with Masar in 2018, leads the British challenge for the Group 1 race with Hurricane Lane. The English handler described himself as “happy” with the stall 5 draw this week, a gate from which six previous winners have come, with the now Coolmore stallion Camelot being the most recent. The son of Frankel is unbeaten in three life starts having won the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.
Another son of Frankel, John Leeper, is next in the betting. The Ed Dunlop-trained Irish-bred colt out of the classy mare Snow Fairy has two career wins to date from three races.
Adayar and Mohaafeth are two other Frankel runners in this year’s field, meaning Frankel is the best represented stallion in the middle distance Classic as the Juddmonte Farm’s stallion bids to sire a first winner of Cazoo Derby.
Frankel was sired by Galileo, the winner in 2001. Gear Up and Mac Swiney were sired by Teofilo and New Approach respectively, both sons of Galileo.
With four Frankel-sired colts, a Teofilo, New Approach and Galileo-sired runner in the 2021 Cazoo Derby, Galileo may yet again have an influence on the Premier Classic on the twentieth anniversary of his own triumph in the race.