Best Solution for Ulster success in Derby showdown
Best Solution offers a real chance of a Northern Ireland triumph in today's Investec Derby at Epsom.
Ulster Thoroughbred Breeders will be represented by Best Solution, ridden by Banbridge jockey Pat Cosgrave.
The horse is owned now by Godolphin.
The son of Kodiac won the Lingfield Derby trial on his latest start last month when scoring very easily and was eased up in the closing stages with the Aidan O'Brien-trained favourite Sir John Lavery well beaten.
Best Solution has double Ulster links in today's £1,625,000 blue riband with Cosgrave again taking the mount following the Lingfield victory.
Cosgrave finished third on Storm The Stars in the 2015 Epsom Derby prior to finishing runner up in the Irish Derby.
Best Solution was bred by Cecil and Martin McCracken who in recent years made the decision to focus on flat breeding rather than the national hunt scene which had been their main interest. The local horse has won three of his nine starts, while placed in three, and earned almost £160,000 for connections. He is presently best priced at 14/1 for Derby glory.
Best Solution's trainer Saeed bin Suroor is no stranger to big race success and includes victory in the Epsom Derby in 1995 with Lammtarra and dual success in both the English 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas while he has claimed the $5million Dubai World Cup seven times on his home patch.
The dam of Best Solution is a sister to Brian Boru, winner of the 2003 Doncaster St Leger, while Sea Moon and Workforce - which won the 2010 Epsom Derby when recording the fastest time to date in the race - also feature in the pedigree.
The McCracken family have a long standing association with the local racing and breeding scene and it is a family affair while Best Solution is detailed as being bred by Martin and his father Cecil McCracken.
Many have tried but few have succeeded in breeding an Epsom Derby winner, so victory today for Best Solution would be a major step forward for the County Down stud operation.
Meanwhile, never has so much been written about such an untalented horse. For most top tier races much of the preamble focuses on the best horses, yet for today's Derby, which son of Frankel, Eminent, should win, column inches have been dominated by the worst horse in the race.
Racing has been near split over the participation of 1,000/1 shot Diore Lia, some applauding the owner's gumption and charitable intentions, others incensed by the cheek and potential hazards it may cause.
To contextualise the difference in quality, the average rating of this year's derby field (without Diore de Lia) is 107, the Racing Post make her's 52. The race reserved for royalty has a shameless pretender.
The reasons behind the horse's unlikely participation? The owner can tell us. Richard Aylward said: "The whole idea behind what I'm doing is to raise money for Great Ormond Street, which is something I care deeply about.
"The horse was entered for the Derby two years ago and these charities need all the money and support they can get. I'm 48 and have been breeding horses all my life - it's a dream come true to have a runner in the race."
Whatever reasons he has and believes to be innocent, much of the racing public disagrees.
Indeed its original trainer, Jane Chapple-Hyam, refused to train the horse for the race, forcing the owner to switch homes for the filly.
The tale took a further twist on Wednesday when the sport's governing body refused to let Gina Mangan, a 25-year-old apprentice with one winner to her name from 2009, take the ride. Fury ensued with threats of withdrawal and accusations of elitism before ultimately a replacement was sourced.
Any fan would be aghast to see the outsider cause interference with another runner and ruin its chances, yet a clean, harmless run and maybe even beating one or two under-performers (still unlikely) can only be considered a victory.
A fantastic charity with plenty of awareness and cash raised, certainly much more of the former than if only the year's training fees had been donated.
Aside from the potential fairytale/horror of Diore Lia's participation, a reason for so much focus on the modest filly is perhaps the absence of any extraordinary colt.
Such is the openness of the race, the largest field since 2003 of 19 will go to post with a lively betting market creating plenty of interest.
Cracksman is the favourite, certainly the form pick but not as imposing a performer as one expects from a Derby favourite.
His only run this season will have provided some valuable course experience, with Epsom's esoteric course not to all horses' tastes.
His owner was undoubtedly livelier regarding his runner in 2015, Golden Horn, who would return victorious after being supplemented for the race at the cost of £75,000.
Supplemented this year (for £85,000) and second behind Cracksman at Epsom was Permian.