Diore Lia's Epsom Derby bid splits racing opinion
Trainer John Jenkins has defended owner Richard Aylward's controversial decision to run apparent no-hoper Diore Lia in Saturday's Epsom Derby, in which she will be ridden by Irish apprentice jockey Gina Mangan.
The daughter of Yeats has made just two competitive appearances to date, beating only one rival on her Epsom debut late last month before finishing down the field at Lingfield.
Mangan's mount is as big as 1,000/1 for the premier Classic, but while her intended participation has drawn criticism from some quarters, owner-breeder Aylward is keen to let his filly take her chance to generate publicity and funds for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital.
Diore Lia - one of 20 horses in Derby contention following yesterday's confirmation stage - made her first two starts for trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam, but has rejoined Jenkins to run in the world's most famous Flat race.
"The filly was with me originally and then she went to Jane's because she thought she might be able to get Michelle Payne over from Australia to ride her," Jenkins explained. "When that didn't happen, the owner decided to send her back to me and all being well she'll run on Saturday. At the end of the day it's the owner's decision.
"He pays the bills, he's paid all the entry fees and he's entitled to run her if he wants. If I didn't run her, someone else would. The owner is keen to run her and has set up a charity."
With Melbourne Cup-winning rider Payne unavailable, 7lb claimer Mangan has been booked and will donate her riding fee to the charity. Mangan, who is based with Jenkins, has ridden only one winner - Salazar at Roscommon in 2009 - and has never ridden around Epsom, but Jenkins feels she is more than capable of doing the job.
"Gina is a good, competent rider. There are no worries on that score," said the trainer.
A graduate of the famous RACE academy in Kildare town, the Dunshaughlin, Co Meath native began her career with Curragh trainer Frank Ennis in 2008, but took a break from race-riding three years later before spending a year riding trackwork in Australia and then joining up with Jenkins in England last August.
The 25-year-old has been riding in Britain since then and was in action at Yarmouth last Wednesday.
John Gosden's Cracksman and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Cliffs Of Moher spearhead the 19 colts who will line up against Diore Lia on Saturday.
Cracksman, which carries the same colours as 2015 Derby hero Golden Horn, is unbeaten in two starts including a victory at the track in last month's Derby Trial. That form has been well advertised since, with the runner-up, Permian, going on to land a Listed prize at Newmarket and the Dante Stakes at York.
As expected, Permian has been supplemented by Mark Johnston at a cost of £85,000.
Dee Stakes winner Cliffs Of Moher is one of seven possibles for O'Brien along with Capri, Douglas Macarthur, Finn McCool, Venice Beach, Wings Of Eagles and The Anvil.
But Diore Lia looks set to go off at one of the biggest ever Derby prices.