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Roaring Lion a glorious opportunity in the Derby

31 May 2018

It’s not often you have a live chance in a Classic, let alone the Investec Derbytdfbvtrztv, so I’m very excited to be riding Roaring Lion in the big race at Epsom on Saturday. Every jockey wants to ride in the top races and they don’t come any bigger than the Derby. I know that I could be waiting a few years to get an opportunity like this again.

The likes of Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have a good team of Classic hopefuls year on year but unless you are riding for those stables it’s difficult to find horses to ride in them. Mr Gosden knows what it takes to win a Derby, having previously won it with Benny The Dip and Golden Horn, and he would not be sending Roaring Lion to Epsom unless he thought he had a very good chance.

I know the horse well, having ridden him in his past six races, and what he has achieved so far would be good enough to win the Derby some years. At times in the past he’s edged left but, with maturity, he’s grown out of it. He went very slightly left last time at York but I’m not concerned about it.

On bare form, Saxon Warrior sets the benchmark and he deserves to be favourite but that doesn’t mean we can’t beat him and it’s not a two-horse race by any means. It’s a deep contest, just as it should be.

Epsom and 12 furlongs pose new questions but I’ve a horse likely to get the trip because he’s very relaxed and will give himself every chance of staying. He’s also very balanced, which gives him every chance of handling the track, and he’s trained by one of the best in the world in Mr Gosden.

People find it hard to believe, but you have to treat the Derby like any other race, otherwise you can over-complicate things. The best jockeys in the world – Christophe Soumillon, Frankie Dettori and Joao Moreira take every race in isolation and know the form inside out. That’s what makes them great.

I’ve watched the Derby since I was a child. Ryan Moore’s win on Workforce was special, while I don’t think Frankie got the credit he deserved when winning on Golden Horn, likewise Joseph O’Brien on Australia. They were very good horses but could easily not won if ridden differently. They were standouts for me.

Elsewhwere on Saturday my first assignment is Sole Silver who steps up to Group 3 company. She has some black type in her already, and we’re searching for more come Saturday. Hopefully she runs well.

Arod is another horse who would prefer some better ground. He won nicely at Windsor last time which is a big plus. David Simcock has done a fantastic job at reviving his career – he’s a horse that has been all over the world. To be rated, and quite deservedly, 110 after the racing he’s had is a credit to the trainer.

Blue De Vega is going to find things very different from what he’s used to. It’s a very fast five furlongs at Epsom. Although he’s probably not badly handicapped at this stage,  it all depends on how he takes to the track on Saturday.

Twin Star ran at Royal Ascot last year, and is starting to come to form now. It’s his first time around Epsom and we’ll have to see how he goes.

Friday is all about the Investec Oaks, and this year’s renewal is very open. The one I like in this is Wild Illusion who has got very strong form going into the race. I thought she did nothing wrong in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas. She’s bred to stay and if she does she could be winning the Oaks.

Mendoza ran really well first time out and this is a race that often throws up a nice horse. We like him a little bit, and I’ve sat on him plenty at home. We just need to see how much he’s stepped forward from the first run.

Kings Shield ran very well in the French Guineas and is a horse we think quite a bit of. This is a drop in grade to listed level, if he gets away with the ground tomorrow he’s got every chance.

Swift Approval is a horse I know very well having been on him a few times. He’s drawn a little bit high – but he’s a horse who likes to go forward and I think the track at Epsom will suit him. He has an each-way chance.

Horse To Follow: Legends Of War

The promising Legends Of War  won at Yarmouth really well last Wednesday. I haven’t sat on him since then, but he’s come out of that race just fine. Hopefully he continues to stay happy and healthy and we can start to look at a race like the Coventry. I don’t know if that’s still the plan for him at the minute but it’s on the radar. It’s impossible to say just yet how good he could be. Obviously given the manner of his debut it was very impressive to the eye, but you can’t judge him off one run. Let’s see how he goes on his next run.