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D-Day for Kameko at Epsom

3 Jul 2020

Derby day is special for every jockey. The Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe are the two biggest races you can win, in my opinion, so to go to Epsom on Saturday on a live chance in Kameko is a real thrill.

As a young boy I watched the Derby on TV, with Sir Percy winning for Martin Dwyer when I was 10 back in 2006 and then Frankie Dettori winning his first on Authorized a year later. Both of those guys are riding against me on Saturday on big chances themselves.

If I do ride Kameko to victory on Saturday, it won’t be the first time I’ve ridden a Derby winner. Back in 2012 I used to ride Ruler Of The World at Ballydoyle as a two-year-old, so to see him develop into a Derby winner at three was tremendously exciting.

Since then I’ve ridden in five Derbys, so I’m racking up plenty of experience in the big one around Epsom. The best horses I’ve ridden in the race, Benbatl and Roaring Lion, didn’t stay the trip, so I’m hoping Kameko can get the extra couple of furlongs this weekend.

That is the big question and the one I’ve been asked all week.

Of course, the answer is, we just don’t know if he’ll stay. When he won the Vertem Futurity at two I thought his best trip might be 10 furlongs, while he wasn’t stopping when he won the Guineas. But we don’t know and we won’t know until the final quarter mile in the Derby.

What I do know is that his temperament gives him a chance of staying. He can be feisty in his box at home, wanting to get on with things, but as soon as you sit on him he’s relaxed and he’s very calm. The way he races in the early stages gives him a chance of getting the trip.

It will be different, of course. No funfair, no big crowd on the infield, no people hanging over the railings. The atmosphere will be missed, but it will be very different going down to the start where Derbys can’t be won but they can be lost.

Kameko is so chilled out that I don’t think that will affect him either way, but it will some horses. I’m sure some horses will handle the preliminaries better without all the noise and the crowd to get them going.

As for stall 11, I’m pleased with where I am. I prefer higher than lower in the Derby, particularly in a big field.

English King’s in stall one for Frankie, he’ll try and jump as well as he can and get behind the right ones, and from his point of view it’s good that Mogul is drawn beside him in two under Ryan Moore, two guys with a wealth of Derby-winning experience.

I’m sure Khalifa Sat will bowl along, Russian Emperor’s a strong stayer so I imagine he’ll go forward and Serpentine made all for his maiden win last time, so there’s plenty of likely pace in there and that would suit me just fine. We don’t want them going slow and bunching up, increasing the chances of trouble in the run.

There isn’t one rival I fear the most. Every horse in the race deserves to be there. I know how good English King is having sat on him at home, so he’s respected as are all of the Ballydoyle contingent, with Mogul and Vatican City the standouts on form, while Serpentine has the unknown factor.

But I’m on the best horse in the race. I’m on the fastest horse in the race. He’s the highest-rated horse in the race and he’s already a Classic winner. That’s the bottom line. It’s simply a matter of whether he stays a mile and a half and there’s no better race to find that out.

Investec Oaks (3.40)

I was really keen to get a ride in the Oaks to have a sit on one before the Derby and I’m delighted to ride for Peter Chapple-Hyam aboard Bharani Star. She’ll be a big price but she ran well at Ascot when beaten five lengths by Frankly Darling, she’s lightly-raced and that was a good run on just her fourth start. She’s one of the outsiders but could run a nice race.

 Coral-Eclipse ( Sunday, 3.35)

I said in last week’s column Deirdre’s been working really well and that continued this week as she flew up the Al Bahathri again. She’s in a great routine at present and we’re very happy with her. Obviously it’s a hugely competitive race with Enable and Ghaiyyath in there, it’s a brilliant race, it doesn’t get much better really, but she’s in grand form and I’m expecting her to run well.

Other Saturday Rides 

Calcutta Cup – Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes (1.50)

His work has been smart at home, but Epsom is a difficult track for a newcomer and especially in against four horses that have run and won. Hopefully he will run a nice race, though, as we do think that he’s a horse with a future.

Caradoc – Investec Handicap (3.00)

I love Caradoc, he’s an improving horse that did well last year. I won on him at Windsor and he went in again after that off a higher mark at Newbury, so hopefully he’ll pick up where he left off the turf campaign last year. He’s drawn a little wide in stall 15 but if he gets a good trip I’m sure he’ll be involved in the finish.

Tintoretto – Investec Zebra Handicap (5.35)

Tom Ward’s older horses are in terrific form and this fellow is included in that after his wins at Kempton on his last two starts. This has been the plan since he crossed the line for his last win and if he can translate that sort of form to the turf he must have a good chance.

Sunday Sandown Rides

Dashing Willoughby – Coral Henry II Stakes (2.25)

Dashers runs in the Henry II Stakes and I’m delighted we skipped Ascot with him as he loves to be fresh. He’s in very good form and he has a good chance, although the opposition is hot in this, too. Cross Counter is a Melbourne Cup winner and is obviously respected, Nayef Road got closest to Stradivarius in the Gold Cup at Ascot, Withhold is a good horse and Summer Moon and Hereby are other interesting four-year-olds taking part, so it looks a cracking race.

Be More – Coral Racing Super Series Fillies’ Handicap (4.35)

Be More did nothing wrong on her seasonal reappearance at Haydock and I expect her to come on for it in the fillies’ handicap. This could be a small field race and if I can get out and dictate on her from the front she could take a bit of beating as we feel she’s reasonably well treated. Her best form is on ground with cut in it, but she handles good ground just fine.