29th April 2015

Palmer has high hopes for Spanish Squeeze as 102 go forward for the Investec Derby at Epsom Downs

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - Ante-post favourite John F Kennedy heads 102 three-year-olds seeking glory in the £1.325-million Investec Derby at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 6 following on from Tuesday's scratchings' stage.

 

The son of Galileo is a 6/1 chance with Coral, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, on the back of an impressive victory in a Group Three at Leopardstown in September.

 

His trainer Aidan O'Brien, responsible for the last three winners of the premier British Classic and five in total, has 21 entries going forward. They include Group Two winners Highland Reel (10/1) and Ol' Man River (8/1), as well as eye-catching maiden scorer Giovanni Canaletto (20/1) and 3.6 million guineas purchase Sir Isaac Newton (20/1).

 

There are 32 Irish-trained acceptors for the 12-furlong Investec Derby, Britain's richest race. Dermot Weld has Leopardstown maiden winner Zawraq among his four entries, while Jim Bolger's four acceptors include Hall Of Fame.

 

Champion trainer Richard Hannon has seven entries, headlined by Doncaster scorer Basateen and Mishghar, an unraced son of Galileo out of Group Three winner Akdarena. John Gosden's quartet includes Christophermarlowe, who impressed when winning at Sandown Park and Epsom Downs.

 

Godolphin has 11 contenders, including Group Three runner-up Future Empire (Saeed bin Suroor) and the unbeaten Festive Fare (Charlie Appleby), the same number as Hamdan Al Maktoum, whose entries feature the aforementioned Basateen and Zawraq, plus Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes runner-up Nafaqa (33/1) and highly-regarded dual winner Algaith (both Barry Hills). 

 

Five time-winning Derby trainer Sir Michael Stoute has eight contenders going forward, headed by winning debutants Consort, owned by the Hardwicke syndicate of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, and Lady Rothschild's Peterhof.

 

He is also responsible for Sandown Park maiden winner Dartmouth, who could bid to give The Queen a first victory in the Investec Derby. Her Majesty came close with 1953 runner-up Aureole and more recently Carlton House, who was third to Pour Moi in 2011.

 

Spanish Squeeze was third to Consort in a seven-furlong maiden at Newmarket in September and stepped up on that performance when taking a mile maiden decisively at Kempton Park on October 22.

 

Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer said: "I am very happy with Spanish Squeeze at this stage - he has filled out and wintered really well.

 

"He had done very little before his debut at Newmarket and ran a lovely race there to finish third. Then he went to Kempton and, through the Newmarket rumour mill, we were told the Godolphin horse (Legend's Gate) would not be beaten, but we ended up beating him pretty comfortably.


"On official ratings, Spanish Squeeze has got a long way to go before Epsom but I do hold him in the highest possible regard and hopefully he will confirm that.

 

"It is very early to think about where he might start off but he has got a 2000 Guineas entry. We could go down that route because he has got plenty of speed.


"He has never done anything to suggest that he isn't at least as good as Aktabantay, Home Of The Brave and New Providence, who were the Group horses from last year. I have always suspected he might be a bit better than them, but time will tell."

 

There are eight French-trained entries, headlined by the Aga Khan-owned pair of Zarkar and Zourkhan (both Alain de Royer-Dupre). Zarkar is by Galileo out of the great Zarkava, while Zourkhan is a Shamardal half-brother to the champion racemare.

 

Jonathan Pease has confirmed Group Three runner-up Nucifera and Tale Of Life, a son of Deep Impact who won a mile maiden by seven lengths at Saint-Cloud in November.

 

Andre Fabre, who sent out Pour Moi to win the 2011 Investec Derby, trains three for owner Khalid Abdullah, who has enjoyed success in the Classic with Quest For Fame (1990), Commander In Chief (1993) and Workforce (2010). They are Harlem, Heredity and Hipparchus.

 

There are two German-trained entries. The unraced Rogue Runner, trained by Andreas Wohler and owned by Qatar Racing, which has six entries plus sharing one - Indian Monsoon - with Al Shaqab Racing which itself is responsible for four more of those still in the Investec Derby. The other entry trained in Germany is Samba Storm (Michael Figge) while there is a rare Danish-trained entry in Giuseppe Piazzi (Bettina Andersen).  

 

All horses currently engaged were originally entered as yearlings in December, 2013. There is a second entry stage costing £8,000 for the 2015 Investec Derby on Tuesday, April 7, when Group One winners Elm Park (Andrew Balding, 14/1) and Gleneagles (Aidan O'Brien, 14/1) are likely to be added. Another horse prominent in the market at 16/1 with Coral who is not currently entered is Epicuris (Criquette Head-Maarek FR). The Rail Link colt was unbeaten in three outings last season including the Group One Criterium De Saint-Cloud.

 

Horses can be supplemented at a cost of £75,000 on Monday, June 1. The Investec Derby will be run 30 minutes later at 4.30pm to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy Britain's premier Classic.

 

Investec Derby betting - Coral bet: 6/1 John F Kennedy; 8/1 Ol' Man River; 10/1 Highland Reel; 14/1 Elm Park, Gleneagles; 16/1 Epicuris; 20/1 Giovanni Canaletto, Sir Isaac Newton; 25/1 Christophermarlowe, Jamaica; 33/1 Homeland, Sherlock Holmes, Nafaqa.

 

David Stevens of Coral said: "Aidan O'Brien has sent out the last three winners of the Investec Derby, and the odds suggest the Ballydoyle maestro has an excellent chance of making it four in a row at Epsom in June.

 

"His squad of potential runners headed by the regally bred John F Kennedy, while the home defence could be led by the Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park, with a supplementary entry likely for Andrew Balding's charge."