Godolphin's Military March
Godolphin's Military March Image Credit: Godolphin

Dubai: He had waited 25 years for this opportunity, but now fate has played a cruel trick on Emirati handler Saeed Bin Surour and denied him a genuine shot at winning a second Group 1 Epsom Derby next weekend.

The Godolphin handler has been full of confidence that Military March, the third favourite for the English blue riband, had the profile, and ability, to give him another Derby trophy after Lammtarra in 1995.

However, an undisclosed injury has ruled the progressive son of New Approach out of the race, which will be run behind closed doors at the historic Epsom Downs on Saturday, July 4.

Military March, who was fourth in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month, had been as short as 5-1 behind Derby Trial Stakes winner English King (5/2) and shock Guineas winner Kameko.

“Military March has had a setback and unfortunately will have to miss the Derby next week,” a disappointed Bin Surour said from the UK.

“We will give him plenty of time and hopefully he will return to action later in the season, perhaps by September.

“It’s nothing major but it has cost him a chance to run in a race (Derby) that he was being prepared for. So far he has been ticking all the right boxes and we have been very happy with his work. But this is horse racing, things like these happen all the time and we are taking it in the right spirit.”

Military March won both starts as a juvenile in 2019, including the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket where he beat stablemate Al Suhail by half-a-length under Oisin Murphy.

Meanwhile, trainer Andrew Balding was talking up the prospects of Kameko pointing out that the colt has the kind of gears that he has not seen in a horse before.

“We’d like to think he’s our best opportunity to win it but we’ve had five runners in the past and had five big disappointments,” Balding told the Racing Post.

“I don’t want to get too excited like I did last year but he’s a strong candidate and any Guineas winner warrants respect in the Derby.

“It would mean everything to win it. It’s the holy grail for everybody who holds a training license. A horse only gets one crack at it and sometimes the best horse of the generation doesn’t even make it.”

“He’s a pleasure to train and a total professional,” Balding added. “He has different gears to any horse I’ve ever trained. We time our fast work and he’s got exceptional ability. He can maintain a long stride and achieve sprinting fractions without really being asked.”

Epsom Derby

(Group 1) 2,400m - Latest Odds

English King 5/2, Kameko 5, Russian Emperor 9, Mogul 10, Vatican City 10, Pyledriver 20