The 240th Investec Derby on Saturday received a major boost and a dollop of substance when the colts who could start first and second favourite for the Classic, Sir Dragonet and Telecaster, were both supplemented for the race.
All the major trials winners will head for Epsom and what looks like it could be a vintage running with 15, eight of them trained at Ballydoyle, going forward to the final 48-hour stage on Thursday.
While Aidan O’Brien had made it clear Sir Dragonet, who ran away with the Chester Vase on soft ground, would join his seven stable companions already entered in the race, Hughie Morrison kept everyone guessing about Telecaster’s participation until just before Monday’s noon deadline.
As Telecaster won the Dante – a trial which has produced five of the past 15 Derby winners – his trainer had to be sure the son of New Approach out of an Oaks runner-up, had recovered from a hard race with only a 16-day gap to Epsom this year.
“It’s very exciting to have a horse with a potential chance in what we consider the world’s greatest Flat race,” Morrison said. “Since the Dante we’ve been looking for anything which might have been regarded as a negative, but there has been none.
“Since his run he has given us no concerns; he’s been eating well, moving well, he’s ticked all the boxes and the final one was when Oisin [Murphy] came and sat on him this morning and gave him a five-furlong spin with Marmelo.”
Charlie Appleby, last year’s winning trainer, will be represented by Line Of Duty, one of his best two-year-olds from last year, although the colt was a well-beaten seventh of eight behind Telecaster at York.
Another Dante runner, the five-length third Surfman, who had an easier race the way things panned out, has also been left in by Roger Varian, whose only Derby runner so far, Kingston Hill, was second in 2014.
Bangkok, the only colt to have beaten Telecaster, in a Doncaster maiden at the start of the season before winning the Sandown Classic trial, is in, along with the John Gosden-trained outsider Humanitarian.
John Ryan has also left in Hiroshima. “He’s been in at every stage,” the trainer said. “There’s nothing to suggest it’s not worth a shot, but whether it is a bridge too far only time will tell. We were hoping for rain and as that now looks less likely, the owner will take a view on Thursday.
“We ran Oceans Applause in 2013. He went on to win a couple of nice races, but he didn’t get the trip. He beat the favourite [Dawn Approach] – but they were last and second last respectively!”