Investec Derby Day is one of the great days on the sporting calendar and I’m very excited to be riding one with a leading chance in the big race. I’ve done plenty of interviews in the build-up to this weekend about Bangkok and I’ve said every time that I’m just so sad that Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha isn’t around to share such a special day. When he set up King Power racing his vision was to have runners in these sorts of races and all of our thoughts will be with him today. Anyway, I hope I can do him proud on the horse and more about his chances later. It looks like being a very hot day at Epsom if the forecast is to be believed and as always you need to be on a horse who can cope with all the crowds and noise without getting worked up. I’ve got some nice chances…
THE TRADER (2.00pm Epsom Investec Private Banking Handicap)
My first ride of the day is The Trader for Mark Johnston in the opener. I haven’t ridden him this season having ridden him on his final start as a two-year-old, but the step up to this 10-furlong trip seems to have helped. He ran well on his reappearance at Chelmsford and then followed that up with a good run in a competitive race at Newbury last time. He races off the same mark again today and is entitled to show up well again, although this looks a good race. Nayef Road is respected despite top weight now he returns to handicap company.
BYE BYE HONG KONG (3.10pm Epsom Investec Diomed Stakes)
Only the seven runners in the Diomed Stakes where I put on the blue and white King Power silks for the first time on an important day aboard the three-year-old Bye Bye Hong Kong. He really impressed me with his attitude at Windsor last time when beating another of today’s rivals (Oh This Is Us) and he gets a lovely weight-for-age allowance. I’m hopeful he can go really well although I respect his more experienced rivals.
BANGKOK (4.30pm Epsom Investec Derby)
When I signed the deal to become retained rider for King Power Racing, I did so because I wanted the chance to ride good horses in the big races. Well, I couldn’t be more delighted to be riding a horse like Bangkok in the biggest flat race of them all. He is bred for the job and everything he has done on the track so far suggests he is well worth his place in this line-up. The form of his reappearance win at Doncaster has obviously been franked by the runner-up Telecaster going on to win the Dante Stakes. Then, at Sandown last time (pictured), he quickened up nicely when I asked him and was always holding them. He has a lovely temperament which he will need for a test like this and I’m really hopeful he can go well. Looking at the opposition you have to respect Aidan O’Brien considering his record. Singling out the best of his is never easy, but Sir Dragonet was mighty impressive at Chester and looks a really exciting colt.
FIRE FIGHTING (5.15pm Epsom Investec Out Of The Ordinary Handicap)
I ride Fire Fighting for Mark Johnston in the penultimate contest and he has been a grand old servant for connections. I’ve not ridden him for nearly four years and there are grounds for optimism. Firstly, he is only 1lb higher than his last winning mark and he bounced back with a really good run at Hamilton last time. However, he is in a much hotter race now and will have to step up from that again. He has had plenty of runs, including some strong pieces of form, around this track so that should be no problems either. There are plenty of dangers, but Sextant for Sir Michael Stoute looks the one to beat.
STONE OF DESTINY (5.50pm Epsom Investec Asset Management Handicap)
My last ride of the afternoon is another for Andrew Balding and King Power Racing. Stone Of Destiny would have a live chance here if returning in the form that saw him finish fourth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last season. He has had a bit of a break since finishing well behind Kachy at Lingfield in April and I’m hoping the return to turf will help. However, life will be tough off a mark of 102 and Lake Volta looks the one to beat.
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