Andrew Balding: This is the first Derby I genuinely think I can win
Betway's newest ambassador assesses all his chances at Epsom on Saturday, and says it would be wonderful if Bangkok can win in memory of Khun Vichai.
The Investec Derby is the biggest race in the world and it’s the one that everyone wants to be involved with. It's the ambition for any trainer with a licence and to win it would be a dream come true.
My father, Ian, managed to do it in 1971 with Mill Reef. I wasn't born then and I suppose my first vivid racing memory was Shergar in 1981.
Dad had Robellino in the race that year who had won what is now the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster the previous autumn. I remember all the build-up to that race and he was no match for the brilliant Shergar on the day.
Border Arrow was third in High-Rise's Derby and it's obviously a very hard race to win.
I've had a few runners over the years. Elm Park was a very good horse but he fell short of what was required on the day.
Bonfire had won the Dante, but I must say that this year is the first time I've gone into it feeling we've got a genuine chance of winning.
Bangkok in the Derby
Even though Bangkok showed really good ability at home and on the track last year, he was a little fragile mentally. He has really grown up over the winter and is now relaxing into his work.
He has an excellent turn of foot for a middle-distance horse. He put the race to bed in two strides at Sandown in the Classic Trial last time, just idling a little when he hit the line.
It was always the plan to go there and then come straight to the Derby.
We couldn't be happier with him at home since Sandown. He's very professional and goes past everything he works with.
He has been excellent on both his starts this season. We beat Telecaster at Doncaster first time out and he has clearly improved since then but I think we have as well.
It looks as though the ground will be a mixture of good and good-to-firm, which will be fine for him. Everything about him looks like he will appreciate the step up to a mile-and-a-half. We're really excited and raring to go.
Obviously, if he was to win the Derby it will be particularly emotional. It's incredibly sad that the Chairman [Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha] is not here to be part of it.
He loved his racing and his dream was to have runners in the big races like the Derby and at Royal Ascot. It was such a tragedy and it would be wonderful for everyone involved if Bangkok could win in his memory.
Rest of Saturday’s Epsom card
We run Le Don De Vie in the opening 1m2f handicap (14:00). He won here on his reappearance, so we know he likes the track.
He should get the extra distance fine and I think he's reasonably well-handicapped. He is working to his mark at home and I hope he'll be competitive.
Bye Bye Hong Kong has won both his starts this season and is taking on the older horses again in the Diomed Stakes (15:10).
I've got a feeling that the track and extra half furlong will suit him. If I'm right and he does take to the track, I think he'll be a big player.
I’ve always felt Genetics would enjoy Epsom and he takes his chance in the 1m4f handicap (17:15).
The ground was much too soft for him last time at Chester but we needed to get a run under his belt. His fitness levels are fine, he seems in good form and he will like the ground. He should go well.
Stone Of Destiny is in good order and goes for the closing 6f handicap (17:50).
There is a slight question mark about the track as he didn't like Lingfield, but this is a different test with a longer straight. Hopefully that will suit him well.
Raise You in the French Derby
We are very happy with Raise You who goes to Chantilly for the French Derby on Sunday (15:25).
He only ran two weeks ago but he won very easily and hasn't done a lot since. It's slightly sooner than you'd want to be running him again but he didn’t take much out of himself at Newmarket.
This is a big step up in class, it's a very strong French Derby, but he relished the extra two furlongs at Newmarket and, all being well, he'll run his race on Sunday.
Hopefully he'll be in the first three.
His draw in stall eight looks good. He's a horse that likes to use his stride and it will give the jockey time to see how the race pans out and then make a decision where to be.
We're going over on Sunday morning and we're looking forward to it.
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