DUBAI: The Epsom Derby, arguably the greatest flat race in the world, is the one prize that every jockey, trainer and owner covets winning to claim a place in racing immortality.
It’s the pinnacle of the Classic season and a race that UAE Royalty and Emirati owners have pursued relentlessly for the last four decades.
Twelve months ago Godolphin, the racing empire created by his Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, claimed their first Derby victory in the stable’s trademark Royal Blue colours. It was a momentous occasion, a memory that will live forever.
£1,623,900is the prize money for the Epsom Derby, Britain richest race and race-day featuring six supporting races.
It all began in 1989 when Nashwan, owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, became the first UAE owner to lift the coveted trophy.
Shaikh Hamdan would do it again in 1994 after Erhaab streaked down the famous downs to double his tally.
Since then, Lammtarra, Shaamit, High Rise, Kris Kin and New Approach, have all claimed victory for the UAE in the great race, the 240th running of which takes place at the historic Epsom Racecourse on Saturday, at 7.30pm UAE time.
Three horses, include Humanitarian, who races in the colours of the young Shaikh Zayed Bin Mohammad, the seven-year-old son of Shaikh Mohammad.
1780the year that the Derby was first run and was won by Diomed
Humanitarian, who is a 100/1 outsider, will be ridden by jockey Roger Havlin in the famous blue and white silks of the late Shaikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Also joining Humanitarian in the 2,400 metre contest, which is the ultimate test for three-year-old horses, are Shaikh Hamdan’s Madhmoon and Line of Duty, who represent Godolphin.
The Dubai trio are among a field of 13 horses set to go to post for the premier Classic, the richest race in the UK with prize money of £1.6 million.
The field id dominated by seven horses running out of the stables of Aidan O’Brien, Ireland’s 21-times champion flat trainer who is seeking a record-equalling seventh Investec Derby.
O’Brien is responsible for the ante-post favourite, Sir Dragonet, the mount of Ryan Moore, who was the supplemented for the Classic on Monday at a cost of £85,000. Sir Dragonet was an impressive winner of the Chester Vase on May 8.
240thrunning of the race which will be brodcast worldwide
O’Brien’s other six Investec Derby contenders include Broome (Donnacha O’Brien, 9/2), the winner of two Group 3 Derby trials at Leopardstown this season, the Lingfield Listed Derby Trial victor Anthony Van Dyck (Seamie Heffernan, 15/2), Dante Stakes fourth Japan (Wayne Lordan, 10/1), Listed Dee stakes scorer Circus Maximus (Frankie Dettori, 20/1), Chester Vase second Norway (Jamie Spencer, 40/1) and Sovereign (100/1).
Other prominent contenders are Hughie Morrison-trained Telecaster (Oisin Murphy, 11/2), the exciting Group 2 Dante Stakes.
However, Telecaster must defy history as no horse from Gate 2 has ever won the Derby since starting stalls were introduced in 1967.
Andrew Balding chases a maiden Derby win with Bangkok (9/1), who won the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 26. He will break from the same stall his Derby-winning sire Australia broke from in the 2014 Derby.
Madhoon, is trained by veteran Irish handler Kevin Prendergast. He will be ridden by Derby debutant Chris Hayes who describes the ride as a ‘dream come true’.
“It’s a dream come true to have my first ride, and he looks to have a real good chance,” Hayes told Racing TV.
“He’s improved — whether he’ll stay a mile and a half is debatable, but it looked like in the Guineas he wanted to step up in trip.”
Commenting on Line Of Duty’s chances of giving him back-to-back Derby victories trainer Charlie Appleby told the stable’s website: “We know that Line Of Duty will have to improve significantly on his run in the Dante Stakes to be a contender, but he has definitely come on for his first start of the year and brings good two-year-old form to the table.
“His run in the Dante was disappointing on the day. We took the positives out of the race — he got a run under his belt, which should have hopefully put us right for the main event.
“We have always hoped that the track at Epsom Downs. It’s an exciting race to be involved in. There is only one Derby and we are glad that we have a horse who won’t look out of place in the line-up.
“He should stay the trip well and will hopefully be in the mix.”