The Derby Dream Starts Here

2014_Epsom_Derby

It may be eighteen months or so away but dreams of the Derby can start now for the owners of the 475 yearlings whose entries for the 2016 Derby were published earlier this week. Here are some facts, figures and thoughts about the entries and their sires.

Weight of numbers

2001 Derby winner Galileo, sire of the 2008 winner New Approach and the last two winners Ruler of The World and Australia, is much the best-represented sire among the entries with 61 (or 13% of the total) engaged. His half-brother Sea The Stars, the 2009 Derby winner, is next with 29 entries, ahead of Dubawi, who was third in the 2005 Derby, on 28. The other sires with 10 or more entries are: Shamardal (22), Dansili (20), New Approach (20), Fastnet Rock (17), Teofilo (13), Oasis Dream (12), Street Cry (12), High Chaparral (11), Pour Moi (11), Rip Van Winkle (10) and War Front (10).

One bullet

On the other hand, there are 34 sires who have a single entry, including Giant’s Causeway, Rock of Gibraltar, Halling, Medicean and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners Sakhee and Rail Link.

In father’s footsteps

Nine Epsom Derby winners are represented among the sires of the 475 entries. In addition to Galileo, Sea The Stars, New Approach, High Chaparral and Pour Moi already mentioned, the others, with their number of entries, are: Sir Percy (6), Authorized (2), Motivator (2) and Sinndar (2), the last named the oldest Derby winner represented, having won it in 2000. Together, these nine Derby winners are responsible for 138 entries (or 29% of the total).

Last chance for Montjeu

Only three of the 88 different sires among the Derby entries have already sired an Epsom Derby winner. They are headed by Montjeu who has nine entries among his final crop of yearlings who will be bidding to become his fifth Derby winner after Motivator (2002), Authorized (2004), Pour Moi (2011) and Camelot (2012). As we’ve seen, numerically Galileo has much the best chance of adding to his total of three Derby winners to date, while the other stallion with a Derby winner to his name already is Sea The Stars’ sire Cape Cross who also has nine entries.

Will they stay?

Fastnet Rock is one of the best-represented sires with 17 entries, the majority in Coolmore ownership, but by Danehill out of a Royal Academy mare, neither his pedigree nor his racing record makes him an obvious sire of Derby winners. At stud, Fastnet Rock’s Australian Group 1 winners include Mosheen, winner of the Crown Oaks over an extended mile and a half, but for the most part his best winners have been sprinters or milers. Among the most doubtful stayers/optimistic entries look to be the single representatives of sprinters Kyllachy and Compton Place, as well as the full brother to the Prix Morny winner and recent Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up No Nay Never.

Where are the Mastercraftsmans?

With the Derby runner-up and St Leger winner Kingston Hill and The Grey Gatsby, who beat the Derby winner Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes, in his first crop of three-year-olds, it is surprising Mastercraftsman is represented by just the three entries. Their trainers are Andrew Balding, Dermot Weld (for the Aga Khan) and Jeremy Gask.

Japan to make an Impact?

Japan’s dual Horse of the Year Deep Impact, whose wins included his country’s Derby, has already sired two winners of the same race, Deep Brillante and Kizuna. From the family of Epsom Derby winner Nashwan and out of the Oaks runner-up Wind In Her Hair, Deep Impact has entries representing the Niarchos organisation (trained by John Hammond) and Qatar Racing, the latter out of the Fillies’ Mile winner Listen.

Big, bad and dangerous?

Big Bad Bob might seem a surprising sire to have as many Derby entries – nine – as the likes of Montjeu and Cape Cross, but the Irish National Stud stallion is getting good results and may well have a much higher profile by the time the 2016 Derby is run. Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and Hamdan Al Maktoum are among the owners of his Derby hopefuls. Big Bad Bob is a grandson of the 1972 Derby winner Roberto and from the same family as the 1999 winner Oath and 2010 Oaks winner Snow Fairy who was herself a great granddaughter of Roberto.

Yes, he’s Frankel’s brother but…

The Khalid Abdullah entries include a brother to the breedingshed’s poster boy and he’s sure to be the subject of plenty of hype but where his Derby chances are concerned it’s worth bearing in mind that a) Frankel was a miler at three and never seriously considered for the Derby b) Frankel’s brother Noble Mission proved best forcing the pace at a mile and a quarter c) the dam’s first foal Bullet Train finished tailed off after failing to stay in the Derby and ended up pacemaking for Frankel and d) their dam Kind was a sprinter.

Derby winner + Oaks winner = Derby winner

A formula which produced the latest Derby winner Australia, out of Ouija Board. Owners of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses, another Niarchos representative, will be hoping it works again as he’s by Galileo out of Light Shift, winner of the 2007 Oaks in the same colours. Ouija Board’s 2016 Derby entry, in Godolphin ownership, is by Dubawi, while another stand-out on pedigree by the same sire is the Aga Khan/Alain de Royer Dupre entry out of unbeaten Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava. Besides Frankel’s brother, Juddmonte’s entries include high-class racemare Midday’s first foal (another by Galileo) while the many Galileo colts among Aidan O’Brien’s entries include one out of the Belmont Stakes-winning filly Rags To Riches.

And talking of rags to riches, a final word for the colt by Millkom out of Lady Counsellor entered by Northumberland trainer Susan Corbett. The dam failed to win in three starts in bumpers but her sister Turbo Linn was unbeaten in five such races. Turbo Linn also won her first three starts on the flat and ended up contesting the Coronation Cup at Epsom. As we said, the Derby dream starts here.

[Image of 2014 Derby field rounding Tattenham Corner courtesy of monkeywing]

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