Wednesday 17 January 2018

Small derby field a boost for Stoute's workforce

SCRIMMAGING should be at a minimum in the Investec Derby after 12 runners were declared for the Blue Riband at Epsom tomorrow, writes JULIAN MUSCAT.

A smaller than average field should offset the inexperience of many leading candidates -- in particular Workforce, which is making only his second start of the year, and third in total.

Michael Stoute, who trains the second favourite, welcomed the development as he strives for a fifth Derby triumph. The Newmarket trainer's plan to give Workforce another run came to nothing when the colt was slow to come to hand.

"I am disappointed we didn't get two races into him," Stoute said. "At Epsom they have to be sharp mentally. They have to go for the openings, but the good thing is there are only 12 runners. That's a help. I couldn't say I'm confident because he lacks that additional race, but he has a chance. I hope the ground isn't too quick."

The draw is also unlikely to be a factor. "They should be able to sort themselves out over a mile and a half with only 12 runners," said Michael Bell, who trains Coordinated Cut.

Bell believes Coordinated Cut will improve on his Dante Stakes third, when Workforce finished one place ahead of him. "My horse blew hard after the Dante so I'm hoping there is improvement to come," he said.

Half of the 12-strong field represent Godolphin and Ballydoyle, with the latter seemingly holding the stronger hand.

Aidan O'Brien is a firm favourite to land the race for the third time. Successful with Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002), he is even-money to take the prize with one of his three runners.

O'Brien is responsible for the 7/4 favourite Jan Vermeer, impressive winner of the Gallinule Stakes, as well as Midas Touch and rank outsider At First Sight.

Midas Touch, which staked his claim with victory in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown, has been trimmed by totesport to 11/2 from 6/1.

Irish Independent

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