For the first time in the Investec Derby’s long history, the draw for the starting stalls was broadcast live from the weighing room at Epsom Downs on Racecourse Media Group’s (RMG) TV channel Racing UK today.
The Aidan O’Brien pair Rostropovich and Nelson were the two taken out of the 14-strong field that had stood on the five-day stage.
Twelve colts will now line up for British racing’s blue riband on Saturday, with O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior remaining warm favourite to follow up his imperious Qipco 2000 Guineas triumph. However, the Coolmore star has drifted slightly in the markets to 6-5 as a result of a poor draw (stall one) and the less than predictable English weather.
Since stalls were introduced to the historic race in 1967, nine winners have come out of stall ten, six from stall five and none from stall two or 11. Perhaps most importantly, the last winner from stall one was Sir Henry Cecil’s Oath in 1999.
The only other horses to have won the mile-and-a-half classic from the first stall were the Arthur Budgett-trained Blakeney in 1969 and Lester Piggott’s 1972 victor Roberto.
That said, 2018 appears to be the year to end Throroughbred racing’s supposed hoodoos. Cross-Atlantic Triple Crown hopeful Justify made light of the ‘Curse of Apollo’ (1882 Kentucky Derby winner Apollo had been the only successful colt who hadn’t raced at two in the race) to win the Kentucky Derby in fine style, and O’Brien’s impressive colt is expected by many to win the English classic in much the same vein.
Should Ryan Moore’s charge taste victory at the Surrey course, he would become O'Brien’s record-equalling seventh winner and the first to complete the Guineas-Derby double since Camelot, who won for the same connections six years ago.
Threats to the son of Deep Impact are expected to come from John Goden’s progressive Dante winner Roaring Lion (stall five), the Dermot Weld-trained Hazapour (stall three), an impressive winner of this year’s Derrinstown Stud Trial at Leopardstown, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, as well as Chester Vase winner Young Rascal (stall nine), who is owned by title sponsor Investec’s managing director, Bernard Kantor, and saddled by 1996 winning trainer William Haggas.
Knight To Behold (Lingfield Derby Trial) and Sevenna Star (Sandown Classic Trial) have also won recognised trials and will break from stalls two and seven respectively. Both will be first Derby rides for their jockeys, Richard Kingscote and Robert Havlin.
Investec Derby draw
1. Saxon Warrior
2. Knight To Behold
4. Delano Roosevelt
5. Roaring Lion
6. Dee Ex Bee
7. Sevenna Star
9. Young Rascal
11. The Pentagon
12. Kew Gardens