Kieren Fallon win would be unbelievable True Story
Published 06/06/2014 | 11:00
The Epsom showpiece being contested tomorrow could be labelled the redemption Derby.
One-time bad boy of racing Kieren Fallon, now 49, looked to have disappeared from the big time until recently, bouncing back to prominence when winning last month's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on board Night Of Thunder.
The Clare native has been increasingly used by the powerful Godolphin operation and will ride their fancied True Story in the £1.25million Classic.
Fallon has muscled in on the potential rides of one-time big signing Silvestre de Sousa, who is reduced to riding Derby outsider Our Channel, and rising star Mickael Barzalona.
Fallon's long career has been dogged by controversy – and success, with the last of three Derby wins coming a decade ago on board North Light – but victory in the blue riband race in his 50th year would be one heck of a redemption tale.
And he has the chance to get the two-day meeting off to a great start when he rides Ihtimal in the Oaks today, also for Godolphin.
As for Godolphin, the doping revelations of just over a year ago cast a shadow over the sport but since then owner Sheikh Mohammed has made widespread changes in a bid to restore the Godolphin image.
Nothing would do that more than victory in the Derby, Godolphin bidding for the big prize for the first time with True Story, Sudden Wonder and Pinzolo.
But Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai, may have to wait just a little bit longer for the ultimate triumph in Flat racing with Australia and Geoffrey Chaucer – both part of the Tipperary-based Coolmore operation, Godolphin's great rivals – tipped to blaze a trail in the Epsom showdown.
Meanwhile, Richard Hannon's big guns are nearing their return to action at Royal Ascot with Toronado and Sky Lantern coming to the boil nicely.
Toronado has not been seen since August when he failed to stay 10 furlongs in the Juddmonte at York but previously he had beaten Dawn Approach in the Sussex Stakes. Sky Lantern won the 1000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Sun Chariot in a stellar campaign last summer but trailed in last when taken over to Sha Tin for the Hong Kong Mile.
"Toronado went to Newbury and worked very well, he's on target for the Queen Anne," he said.
"He's always been a horse that excites. Trainer, owner, jockey, gallop watcher, whatever you are if he doesn't get your blood up then nothing else will.
"Sky Lantern is in the Queen Anne and Windsor Forest. She worked very well."