investec epsom derbyInvestec Derby Festival
(Photo : Epsom Derby/Investec)


This week is “Derby Week”, in every sense of the word. While there are much richer and perhaps bigger festival days in racing, the reality is, there is only one original Derby, and that’s the English version, which is set to be run over 1½ miles at Epsom on Saturday. For the first time in its 300 year plus history, the Derby has attracted the sponsorship of a banker, in this case one of “ours”, Investec, so this weekend represents a red letter day not only for the race itself, but for the country.

Ironically, given the fact that he was modern history’s most successful trainer associated with the Derby, this years running coincides with the passing of the legendary Vincent O’Brien, conditioner of no fewer than six of the great races’ heroes. The jockeys going to post on Saturday will wear black armbands in his honour.

While in theory, the Derby attracts the best three-year-olds of their year, the truth is it has in recent times, become the domain largely of horses sired at Ireland’s famous Coolmore Stud, and this year is no exception. John Magnier’s Coolmore group has six of the thirteen horses going to post under the tutelage of Aidan O’Brien, while no fewer than five of the entries are the progeny of last season’s Champion European sire, Galileo, (a son of the most successful stallion in European history, Sadler’s Wells, who is himself represented by two competitive entries, as well as another grandson, by Montjeu). If that’s not domination, what is?

From a Summerhill perspective, we’ll obviously be rooting for the Galileos, as we have two spectacularly bred daughters arriving from Australia this coming week, before their preparation for the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale in November.

Watch this space on Monday morning for news of the outcome.