A Dream Voyage for Julie Wood

Voyage, Pat Dobbs and Julie Wood at Epsom | Emma Berry

EPSOM, UK — The names Morston (GB) and Lammtarra were being bandied about as Voyage (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}) stepped onto the track at Epsom on Tuesday morning. In 1974 and 1995 respectively, that pair came to the Derby on the back of one run, but what they lacked in experience they made up for in brilliance. 

Voyage's trainer Richard Hannon has had two previous runners in the Derby, the 2021 runner-up Mojo Star (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Humphrey Bogart (Ire) (Tagula {Ire}), who finished fifth five years earlier. 

“Both times we thought we were slightly taking a chance,” says the trainer as he watched Voyage take a lap of the parade ring after exercising at Epsom alongside Sam Hawkens (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). “But this fella, he's unbeaten, that's one thing you can say for him, but it's whether he's good enough and I don't think we can say that until after the race.”

Pat Dobbs, who rode Voyage to his easy novice win at Newbury on April 19, was back in the saddle, as he will be for the Derby itself. 

“Pat rides all of Julie's and she's extremely loyal in every way,” Hannon says, “It's great for her to have a runner and I hope he runs well for her. She loves it. She won't sleep for two weeks now.”

Of his decision to swerve a traditional Derby trial, he adds, “Running in a trial, he couldn't do any more than he's done by winning that maiden. He is a horse that has burst onto the scene and Julie was very keen to keep him there, to keep the dream alive, and that's what she's done.

“It's beautiful ground out there. He latched on a bit but he does that at home.

We didn't come here to see how good he was.”

Wood was present at Epsom with her husband Chris and was clearly relishing every minute of the Betfred Derby gallops morning as the countdown to the race itself begins in earnest.

“What a wonderful lead-up. You can't beat it, can you? I've been waiting for years to get one good enough to line up and this is it,” she says.

Wood has long been a regular on the sales grounds in Britain and Ireland, particularly at the foal sales, and she selected Voyage at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale for 40,000gns when he was sold by the Castlebridge Consignment on behalf of his Italian breeders Effevi Srl and the Botti family's Razza Del Velino.

“I always throw a stayer in every year,” says Wood.

“A curveball!” interjects Hannon.

She continues, “I always put one in every year hoping that one will be good enough to come here, and this is the lad. He's got the right page for it, and I just want to enjoy the moment. It's good to be in a place like this and it's nice that they let you have a run around the track, because it's so unique, so it's good to have a sluice round Tattenham Corner and down the hill.”

She continues, “He's bred to stay and that's what he showed he did in spadefuls. That is always a good maiden at Newbury – it always throws up good horses. 

“We had been declared last year at the back end for a similar mile and a quarter [race] but the track was waterlogged and the meeting was off. That was just the year we had but we might have been coming here with another run under our belts. He has strengthened up over the winter and he did a racecourse gallop before he ran first time. Today is an away-day and I think it will do him the world of good.”

 

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