Sir Dragonet among O’Brien’s seven Derby possibles

Jockey Donnacha O'Brien riding Sir Dragonet

Trainer Aidan O’Brien believes the owners of Investec Derby favourite Sir Dragonet would rather send the colt to Epsom next month, rather than to Chantilly for the French alternative.

Unbeaten Sir Dragonet, part of the Irish-based Coolmore empire for which O’Brien is principal trainer, ran away with the Chester Vase trial.

His original Derby entry was cancelled, meaning Coolmore must pay an £85,000 late-entry fee on 27 May to run.

The Derby takes place on 1 June.

O’Brien is seeking a record-equalling seventh success in a race he referred to as Flat racing’s “Holy Grail”.

He had previously suggested Sir Dragonet would be rerouted to the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on 2 June.

But, speaking at Epsom’s Breakfast With The Stars preview, he said if he “had to bet” he thinks the Coolmore partners “would like to go to Epsom”.

“Every horse we have is trained to be there; that’s what I think they’ll be favouring,” he said.

O’Brien indicated that as well as Sir Dragonet he could saddle up to six runners including trial-race winners Cape Of Good Hope (Epsom), Circus Maximus (Chester), Anthony Van Dyck (Lingfield) and Broome (Leopardstown).

He also confirmed Pink Dogwood, the narrow but comfortable winner of a race at Navan in April, is on course to lead his challenge on the fillies-only Oaks, staged over the same mile-and-a-half distance at Epsom on the previous day to the Derby.

Speaking at the same event as O’Brien, trainer Hughie Morrison said a decision on whether Dante Stakes winner Telecaster will be added to the Derby line-up would be made at the last moment.

Like Sir Dragonet, the colt’s original entry was not confirmed in March because at that stage he had never raced.

“I should think we’ll leave it until the last minute – it’s a lot of money,” Morrison said.

“He’s come out of it well, but it was a hard race only 16 days before Epsom, and as a result of winning the Dante we have a free entry into the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris, so we’ll see.”


BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

A certain sigh of relief here. With Telecaster no certainty to run, if the Derby also lost its other most impressive trial winner, it would be something of a kick in the teeth for the race. But the vibes are sounding good regarding Sir Dragonet.

It’s also interesting that the Irish and the French have offered free entries to the Dante Stakes winner (the Gallic representatives were not at all backward in coming forward after certainly two of the trials).

This reignites the debate about the UK trials being ‘win and you’re in’. I know it’s being discussed at a high level, and it would be an interesting innovation. Some, though, fear it might put people off going for an early entry, taking the view if you win a trial you’re in, and if you don’t you’re maybe not good enough.

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BBC Sport – Horse Racing

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