Passenger Joins the Derby Fray

Passenger | PA Media

Saturday's Betfred Derby at Epsom has been boosted by one supplementary entry, with the Niarchos family opting to pay the £85,000 fee to add Dante S. third Passenger (Ire) (Ulysses {Ire}) to the line-up.  At the confirmation stage, 16 colts remain in contention, with Coolmore's Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) and Godolphin's Military Order (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) vying for favouritism. 

The latter is trained by Charlie Appleby, who will be aiming for a third Derby success following Masar (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}) in 2018 and Military Order's full-brother Adayar (Ire) two years ago. 

Issuing an update on his sole runner via the Godolphin website, Appleby said, “He came out of his Lingfield Derby Trial win very well and we've been very pleased with him since. He's improving week on week physically, and we can't fault him to date on what he has been doing in his work and on the racecourse. He goes out and gets the job done in the mornings without being flash.”

He continued, “He's a mile-and-a-half horse, so you don't expect flashy work. That hasn't changed from his two-year-old days and I wouldn't expect it to change.”

Passenger's trainer Sir Michael Stoute will be aiming for back-to-back Derby wins following the success of Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) last year, and his seventh victory in the race overall, while Aidan O'Brien is seeking a ninth Derby win. The Ballydoyle trainer has a quarter of the horses remaining in the entries, with the quartet being completed by Adelaide River (Ire) (Australia {GB}), Covent Garden (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and San Antonio (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}). 

Godolphin has also supplemented Lingfield Oaks trial winner Eternal Hope (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) for the Oaks at Epsom on Friday.

“She bought her own ticket to the race,” Appleby said. “She's a filly who started her career in a Wolverhampton novice in February and all she has done is improve ever since.

“She's a trial winner, at a track that tests a horse's ability to handle sharp bends, and she acquitted herself very well. It is seen as a test for Epsom, which shouldn't pose any problem for her.”

Godolphin has already secured one British Classic this season with the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Mawj (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}). The 1,000 Guineas winner is now being aimed at the Coronation S. at Royal Ascot, where she could face a rematch with her runner-up Tahiyra (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), the winner of Sunday's Irish 1,000 Guineas.

“She is in good form,” reported Bin Suroor on the Godolphin website. “Her win meant a lot. It was the third time we won the 1,000 Guineas, but it had been a long time since the last one–21 years.

“We knew last year she was a good filly, but she is a tiny filly and you have to look after her. I gave her a break between races, just to allow her to recover.”

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