Coral Racing Ambassador Kieren Fallon gives you the inside track on Godolphin’s Derby runners and reveals what it takes to win the big race
The Derby will always be a special race for me. I won it three times on Oath, Kris Kin and North Light and those races were truly memorable.
So much goes into making a Derby winner. To begin with, you need a well-balanced colt who definitely stays a mile and a half. Just as importantly, they need a good temperament. There’s the parade before the race and these big, gassy colts often want to get on with the job. Boil over at this stage and your race can be gone before you even get to the start. As a jockey you need a lot of confidence and you need to be able to relax. If you don’t relax then the horse isn’t going to relax and that’s not good for your chances around there, especially in the Derby.
Saeed Bin Suroor runs three horses in the race: Benbatl, Best Solution and Dubai Thunder. Of the three, I seriously rate the chances of Best Solution, especially if there’s any rain and the ground’s not too firm.
It’s so open this year and if Aidan O’Brien trained Best Solution, I’m convinced he’d be favourite. They were massively keen on Sir John Lavery at Lingfield, saying he was the best of their potential Derby horses, but he didn’t handle the ground and Best Solution beat him well. There’s no doubt in my mind that Best Solution’s a proper horse. He was working with Thunder Snow in Dubai and on his home work – and what he did at Lingfield – he has to go well.
Dubai Thunder’s a really interesting runner for us as well. He’s a big baby and this is a big step up for him, as he only made his debut a couple of weeks ago. Since then, he’s been for a day out at Chelmsford to give him a look around and get him travelling and away from the yard so it’s less of a shock to him at Epsom. His run at Newbury took nothing out of him, but the atmosphere at Epsom will be a new challenge. He was a bit gassy at Newbury, but he’s as good as gold at home I’m told, so hopefully he’ll handle it all.
Our horses are drawn right across the track with Dubai Thunder in stall one, Best Solution in eight and Benbatl widest of all in 16. You really do have to be on the ball out of the gates and the draw has a huge influence on what sort of race you can ride. There’s the elbow that comes just a furlong into the race and you’re racing up a stiff hill at the time. If you use up too much energy trying to hold a position or get knocked around, as so often happens, then that’s the end of your race already. It matters even more in a big field like there is in the Derby this year. I always preferred to be drawn closer to the rail, so I think the draw’s an advantage to Best Solution and Dubai Thunder.
The biggest danger to everyone in this year’s race is Cracksman. He’ll definitely have improved from his last run when he won around Epsom as John Gosden’s always improve for the run. He’s got the beating of Dante winner Permian, has course experience and ticks all the boxes for a Derby winner. Having said that, I’m hoping Best Solution can come home in front.