Sport Horse Racing

Friday 17 November 2017

Frankie the perfect Derby partner for Wings Of Desire

Frankie Dettori is now in his mid 40s but he’s still the man with the most natural ability out of all the jockeys in today’s race. Photo Credit: Reuters / Stefan Wermuth
Frankie Dettori is now in his mid 40s but he’s still the man with the most natural ability out of all the jockeys in today’s race. Photo Credit: Reuters / Stefan Wermuth

Wayne Bailey

When a young Lester Piggott won the Derby on Never Say Die in 1954, he was driven home after the race by his parents. He then mowed the lawn and went to bed soon after nine o'clock.

Later years would, of course, become a lot more colourful for Piggott but for all the wrongs in his life he certainly has done plenty right and another unprecedented eight victories in the Derby would follow, the last of which was Teenoso in 1983.

The Derby is often described as a true test of both speed and stamina for the thoroughbred and while Piggott was lucky enough to ride some great horses like Vincent O'Brien's Sir Ivor (1968) and Nijinsky (1970), his strength in the saddle and sense of timing was just as important as the talent underneath him in what is arguably the world's most prestigious race.


In 1990, I remember my father stressing the importance of the rider in the Derby as he duly backed Quest For Fame at 7/1 with his favourite jockey Pat Eddery on board. With money quite scarce back then, the return from Eddery's win funded most of my old man's World Cup Italia '90 nights out at the local pub; a place which seemed just as fun as Italy.

Twenty-six years on, I'm hoping to boost my own fund for some decent nights out ahead of Euro 2016 by backing Frankie Dettori - who bids for his third Derby win on board Wings Of Desire, expected to go off around 4/1.

The aforementioned Eddery, who sadly died in November, once said that the Derby is "the ultimate test for any human or equine athlete" and I find it interesting that he mentioned the human element first, before mentioning the equine.

Dettori is now in his mid 40s but experience counts for a lot in the big events and alongside Kieren Fallon, he's still the man with the most natural ability out of all the jockeys in today's race.

Like lots of his supporters, I was concerned to see Dettori fall when his mount Magillen slipped at Leicester on Tuesday but the flamboyant Italian just twisted his arm a little and was left largely unscathed.

Wings Of Desire had an original Derby entry but trainer John Gosden later took him out. Then after the Dante win, Gosden realised he'd made a mistake and had to supplement him on Monday at a substantial cost of £75,000.

This year's renewal is not exactly vintage and it could be a good investment with the likes of Galileo Gold and The Gurkha now heading to Ascot instead.

Like 2013 winner Ruler Of The World, Wings Of Desire was unraced as a two-year-old but he's made the most of it in his three races this season with his first win coming in a maiden at Wolverhampton.

He later beat some decent sorts to land the Dante at 9/1 but he looks sure to improve again now stepping back up in trip. With the possibility of more to come and a jockey with an insatiable appetite for big-race wins, he looks a potent entry.


US Army Ranger looks the pick of the Ballydoyle bunch around 9/2 but he only just got the better of Port Douglas in the Chester Vase, despite being 4lbs better off. It will be very interesting to see how they match up today racing at level weights.

In my view, Cloth Of Stars is the biggest threat to the selection around 6/1. A son of Sea The Stars, Andre Fabre's colt acts of soft ground and has been slowly improving this year with two wins in as many races. Fabre won in 2011 with Pour Moi and Cloth Of Stars is following a similar path.

A little earlier in the Investec Corporate Banking 'Dash' Handicap (3.45), I'm very keen on Duke Of Firenze which is expected to go at 7/1 or thereabouts.

Once rated 101, he won a good quality handicap off 90 at York last time and he could be well-in with a 4lb penalty for today's race. He won this contest as a four-year-old in 2013 off a mark of 97 for Michael Stoute.

He was later trained by Robert Cowell but he's been with current trainer David Griffiths since the end of last year.


Gawdawpalin let this corner down when failing to fire at Newbury at 20/1 a couple of weeks ago, but he never seemed to settle in that race and I'm willing to give him another chance off the same mark of 75 this afternoon in the opening Investec Private Banking Stakes Handicap at Epsom (2.0).

The Sylvester Kirk-trained colt had previously put in some good efforts in handicaps, and I'm convinced he's got more to offer. Chalked up at 25/1 in the early markets yesterday evening, he's one to take each-way.


2.0 Epsom: Gawdawpalin (e/w)

2.35 Epsom: Sayana

3.10 Epsom: Postponed

3.45 Epsom: Duke Of Firenze

4.30 Epsom: Wings Of Desire

6.0 Curragh: Fort Del Oro

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