By Simon Jackson.
Western Hymn bids to extend his unbeaten record when he contests the Investec Derby, as 17 runners remain in contention after today’s five-day confirmation stage.
The John Gosden-trained colt has won all of his three starts and is set to be joined at Epsom by stablemate Romsdal, who was supplemented today (Monday) by owner Princess Haya of Jordan at a cost of £75,000.
Western Hymn, winner of the Group 3 bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown in April, is marginally preferred by bookmakers who offer 14-1 about his chances of winning on Saturday. Chester Vase runner-up Romsdal is a general 20-1 shot.
“Western Hymn is growing up and William [Buick – jockey] said his head carriage was better today,” Gosden said after the colt worked at Epsom Downs on Thursday.
“He is a young horse and has only had three races. The first was at the backend of last year at Kempton Park. People decry All-Weather racing but when the ground has gone in the autumn and you want to get a two-year-old out, there is no better place than Kempton or Lingfield on Polytrack.
“Whether they win or not, they get a nice race and come home in one piece rather than having the guts pulled out of them on heavy ground in November. He did that and won well.
“Then obviously, he ran a nice race first time out this year at Newbury. He had to slog a bit in heavy ground at Sandown when winning the Classic trial but won well.
“Having had those two races, I did not want to have a hard race at York in the Dante so we missed that and instead took him to work at Lingfield. I was very pleased with his work there – he did a mile in 1m 37.2s. Then he has come here today and rather enjoyed himself.
“William was very happy with Western Hymn. The colt handled the hill well, switched his legs properly, went over the crossing and did not jump the road. The head carriage was better and he is growing up all the time.
“Western Hymn has got a lot of personality – the whole family does, but then High Chaparral gives that to them. High Chaparral nearly got beat in the Breeders’ Cup Turf because he had to get there at the last moment.
“Western Hymn has a lot of ability and I am very pleased with the way he has trained this year. He is a very solid and legitimate horse to run in the race.”
Speaking on Thursday, before of the decision to supplement Romsdal was confirmed, Gosden added: “Romsdal will work at Newmarket Racecourse tomorrow and we will see what the owner wants to do.
“He is also in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot. It will be their choice, not mine.”
THE INVESTEC DERBY
Group 1, £1,379,500
June 7, 2014 (1 mile, 4 furlongs, 10 yards)
Horse Owner Trainer
AROD (IRE) Qatar Racing Limited Peter Chapple-Hyam
AUSTRALIA Derrick Smith/Sue Magnier/Michael Tabor/Teo Ah Khing Aidan O’Brien IRE
EBANORAN (IRE) H H Aga KhanJohn Oxx IRE
FASCINATING ROCK (IRE) Newtown Anner Stud Farm Dermot Weld IRE
GEOFFREY CHAUCER (USA) Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith Aidan O’Brien IRE
IMPULSIVE MOMENT (IRE) Weston Brook Farm Bromfield & Whitaker Andrew Balding
KINGFISHER (IRE) Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor Aidan O’Brien IRE
KINGSTON HILL Paul Smith Roger Varian
ORCHESTRA (IRE) Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith Aidan O’Brien IRE
OUR CHANNEL (USA) Abdulla Al Mansoori William Haggas
PINZOLO Godolphin Charlie Appleby
RED GALILEO The Hon Ronnie Arculli Ed Dunlop
ROMSDAL H R H Princess Haya of Jordan John Gosden
SNOW SKY Khalid Abdullah Sir Michael Stoute
SUDDEN WONDER (IRE) Godolphin Charlie Appleby
TRUE STORY Godolphin Saeed bin Suroor
WESTERN HYMN Robin Geffen and Rachel Hood John Gosden
16 five-day confirmations plus 1 supplementary entry (ROMSDAL)
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