The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt was a creditable second in the Dante at York earlier this month on what was only his second career start, getting into his stride late on after having the bit slip through his mouth at one stage.
Stoute and Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe were keen to build up his racecourse experience so they headed to Lingfield yesterday to put him through his paces.
With two stablemates for company, he came out on top under Ryan Moore to book his Derby ticket, for which he is as low as 8-1 with Sky Bet – although no horse beaten in the Dante has ever gone on to land the premier Classic.
Grimthorpe said: “He went fine, he’s got the most super temperament. He travelled very smoothly in between the two lead horses, quickened up nicely to go through between them and went on with the other horse to finish nicely on the bridle. The whole idea was just to give him a bit more racecourse experience really. He’s only had two starts in his life to the more he gets used to being on the track, the better.
“I have to speak to the Prince just to confirm he’s happy to do that (go to the Derby). Sir Michael was very positive and I would say it would be all systems go.”
Workforce is the longer priced of Abdullah’s two intended runners with Lingfield Derby Trial winner Bullet Train the better-fancied contender. Henry Cecil’s charge also went well in a Newmarket spin yesterday. Grimthorpe added: “Bullet Train is heading that way (to Epsom) as well. He did a nice breeze in Newmarket this morning so everyone is happy with him. I think Workforce is relatively inexperienced but hopefully potentially very decent – whatever he does we still expect improvement from him.”
Tom Queally is set to partner Bullet Train at Epsom and he is similarly upbeat about the son of Sadler’s Wells. “He’s in good shape. He’s improving all the time and he deserves to take his chance. I’m pleased with him and looking forward to the ride,” said Queally.
Hot Prospect, beaten three and a three-quarter lengths when third to Bullet Train at Lingfield, is also on course for Epsom.
“He runs in the Derby. We know he’s an outsider, but he’s in good form and the owner has paid his entries,” said trainer Michael Jarvis. He’ll get the trip and he likes good, fast ground.
“If you fancy Bullet Train to win, we’re four lengths behind him, so he should at least finish in the middle of the field and hopefully better. He won’t be disgraced”.
Kieren Fallon does not have a ride in the race at present but he firmly believes the winner will be trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Fallon worked for the Ballydoyle team for a number of years and they dominate the ante-post betting with St Nicholas Abbey, Midas Touch, Jan Vermeer and Cape Blanco all holding excellent claims.
While Fallon picked up a chance spare ride for O’Brien in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month, he is not anticipating a repeat performance at Epsom.
Investec Derby, Coral bet: 7-4 St Nicholas Abbey, 6-1 Cape Blanco, Jan Vermeer, 7-1 Midas Touch, 10-1 Bullet Train, Rewilding, 12-1 Workforce, 14-1 Azmeel, 20-1 Coordinated Cut, 25-1 bar.