Tony Paley: Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride Hazapour in the Derby, a surprise move ahead of next week’s Epsom Classic.
The Dermot Weld-trained colt, the fourth favourite for the Derby at around 12-1, won the the Derrinstown Stakes, the premier Derby trial in Ireland, at Leopardstown earlier this month. Hazapour’s impressive success that day was secured under Declan McDonogh, but Weld has booked Dettori, whose retained trainer John Gosden has a Derby contender in Roaring Lion, owned by Qatar Racing Ltd who will call on the services of their main rider Oisin Murphy.
Hazapour hails from the same family as the 2016 Derby winner Harzand also trained by Weld, who is currently without stable jockey Pat Smullen, who has taken time off for health reasons.
Dettori’s agent, Ray Cochrane, said: “I can confirm Frankie rides Mr Weld’s horse in the Derby. It’s a great ride to get. He looked really impressive in winning the Derrinstown, which is always the best trial in Ireland. He looks an exciting horse.”
Dettori has won the Derby twice, on Authorized in 2007 and Golden Horn in 2015. He was quoted in the press two days ago that he was available for a Derby ride.
Gosden can challenge O’Brien in trainers’ battle
Aidan O’Brien is, inevitably, the strong favourite to retain the UK trainer’s title, which he won for the sixth time last season while also setting a new record for Group or Grade One wins in a calendar year. O’Brien’s overall dominance, though, has somewhat overshadowed John Gosden’s rise to unchallenged pre-eminence among domestic stables, and the hot novice stakes event which opens the card at Yarmouth on Wednesday offers another reminder that in Britain at least, all the power seems to be coalescing in Gosden’s Newmarket yard.
Gosden, who was bidding on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, was the underbidder when a Scat Daddy juvenile out of the mare Madera Dancer was knocked down for 900,000gns at Tattersalls’ Craven Breeze-Up sale in April. Stephen Hillen, the bloodstock agent who saw him off with the winning bid, said afterwards that he had made the purchase “for a client who wishes to stay anonymous,” adding that “he will be staying in the UK”.
Two months later, and with the name Legends Of War, the colt in question makes his racecourse debut today in the colours of Qatar Racing – and trained by John Gosden, who is also responsible for Qatar Racing’s Roaring Lion, the second-favourite for the Derby.
Gosden’s ability to attract horses from so many high-powered owners and somehow keep them all happy is impressive, and has been a key part of his rise to domestic supremacy. If it can be maintained, the sheer scale of his operation means that he could yet mount a serious challenge to O’Brien in this year’s title race, with a mix of quality and huge quantity threatening to overwhelm his rival’s prize-money haul from a relative handful of top events.
Most of the big Newmarket yards have a runner in the race at Yarmouth and the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot could well be the next step for the winner. Legends Of War is the early favourite, but far from the only runner with an impressive pedigree or price tag. Roger Varian’s San Donato (2.20), who cost £500,000 as a yearling, qualifies on both counts, though this is really a race to watch with an eye to the future.
Call Out Loud (4.25) could get an easy time of it on the lead in the seven-furlong handicap later on the card, while Tanasoq (4.05) and Star Cracker look like the pick of the prices as Flat racing returns to Ayr.
Birds Of Prey (7.25) finished strongly on his first outing for Paul Nicholls after being bought from John Oxx’s stable in Ireland and can improve the trainer’s excellent record with his daughter Megan in the saddle when he runs at Kempton this evening. Sister Sibyl (3.15) should also go well on the jumps card at Warwick.