Marquand hoping to go one better in 2nd Cazoo Derby ride
3 Jun 2021
A dozen declared for the Cazoo Derby Stakes, headed by hot-favourite Bolshoi Ballet
Jockey Tom Marquand will return to Epsom on Saturday believing he has a live chance of stepping up from second to first place on the Cazoo Derby podium with Youth Spirit.
Khalifa Sat carried Marquand into second place behind Serpentine last year on the 23-year-old jockey’s Derby debut and there are parallels to this year’s challenge, as Youth Spirit is also owned by Ahmad Al Shaikh and trained by Andrew Balding.
Marquand began 2020 without a top-level victory to his name but ended the year having won four Group 1 races, three on Addeybb including the QIPCO Champion Stakes and a Classic success on Galileo Chrome in the Pertemps St Leger.
Khalifa Sat went to Epsom as a 50/1 chance after winning the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood while Youth Spirit earned his place in this year’s £1.25m Classic, part of the middle distance of the category of the QIPCO British Champions Series, with a victory in the Chester Vase.
Marquand said: “The only difference to last year is we were probably slightly cautious that Khalifa Sat might not have the speed for the Derby and would appreciate further, whereas this lad went to Chester with a question mark over whether he would stay. He answered that nicely so the distance won’t be an issue.”
Dubai-based Al Shaikh will be having his third runner in the Derby – Marhaba Malyoon finished last in 2011 – having attended the race for over 30 years as part of the Maktoum family entourage and being present for the victories of Nashwan, Erhaab and Lammtarra.
“It’s great for Ahmad Al Shaikh to have found another Derby prospect so quickly and for Andrew, having had the second in the Derby last year, to be coming back with a horse with a competitive live chance,” said Marquand.
“The trials are open to interpretation because nobody quite has the full story as to what went into the races 100 percent fit and who would appreciate the ground and trip.
“It’s a game of opinions and the opinion of the bookies is that his trial wasn’t the strongest but I think he answered every question thrown at him. For a trial you couldn’t have asked him to do anything else.”
He added: “It was good to get a Derby ride last year and Ahmad Al Shaikh was absolutely over the moon. But you don’t dream of finishing second in the Derby so I can’t say it was special to finish second because I haven’t won it.”
The Cazoo Derby has drawn a field of 12 which is headed by Bolshoi Ballet, unusually the only runner representing Aidan O’Brien, the most successful trainer in the Classic’s history with eight wins. At one time he was talking of saddling eight.
The late change of plan has resulted in Bolshoi Ballet becoming a more dominant favourite, a position he has held since recording the second of two Group 3 wins in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown by six lengths.
He will be a first Derby runner for Westerberg, the racing name of Georg Von Opel, the billionaire great-grandson of the founder of the German car manufacturer, who owns a share in the colt with the Coolmore partners of Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
The Westerberg colours were carried to a first Group 1 victory last year when the John Gosden-trained Miss Yoda won the German Oaks under Frankie Dettori.
“Saturday and Friday (when La Joconde contests the Cazoo Oaks) will be very exciting for both Georg and Emily von Opel,” said Von Opel’s racing manager Jamie McCalmont. “They will be going to Epsom for the first time.
“Miss Yoda was from the first year that Georg bought yearlings and sent two to John Gosden and two to Ralph Beckett. He met up with M V Magnier and has slowly got to know them and is becoming a bigger part of that group. We are involved with probably ten three-year-olds and quite a few two-year-olds.”
The Jim Bolger-trained Mac Swiney will be attempting a rare feat by bidding to become the first Irish 2,000 Guineas winner since Grundy in 1975 to also win the Cazoo Derby.
The 79-year-old Bolger won the Derby in 2008 with New Approach, the sire of Mac Swiney, and has also captured the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas this year with Poetic Flare who was beaten by his stablemate at the Curragh. Mac Swiney will be ridden by Kevin Manning, Bolger’s 54-year-old son-in-law.
John Leeper, a son of Frankel out of Oaks winner Snow Fairy, is named after the late John Dunlop, who twice won the Derby with Shirley Heights and Erhaab. His owner-breeder Cristina Patino raced Snow Fairy who was also trained by Ed Dunlop, son of John Dunlop. John Leeper earned his chance with victory in the Betway Fairway Stakes at Newmarket and in another late switch will be partnered by Frankie Dettori, hoping to add to his two successes on Authorized (2007) and Golden Horn (2015).
Mohaafeth will be seeking to give William Haggas a second Cazoo Derby victory 25 years after he clinched his first with Shaamit. The Shadwell Stud-owned Mohaafeth has won all three starts this year culminating in a five-length win in the Betfair Newmarket Stakes.
The undefeated Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes winner Hurricane Lane (William Buick) will be one of the three Charlie Appleby-trained Godolphin runners. The trainer of 2018 Derby winner Masar will also saddle One Ruler (James Doyle) and Adayar (Adam Kirby).