Hamdan Al Maktoum Bidding for Derby win


It’s been five years since Hamdan Al Maktoum tasted victory in an Epsom classic, although the owner could be celebrating on either Friday or Saturday. Al Maktoum goes into the Oaks and Derby with lively chances and he’s feeling confident about success in at least one of the prestigious races.

Maqsad will line up in Friday’s Oaks and she was a maiden throughout the winter, although the filly has since won twice at Newmarket and Angus Gold (horse racing manager to Al Maktoum) feels as though her size could put her at an advantage in the Oaks.

"Maqsad is a big filly who we always thought a fair bit of last year, but for whatever reason it didn't work out," said Gold. "She's come a long way this season. She won well last time, but I just hope she handles the track because she is quite big.

"It's not guaranteed that she'll stay the trip. She's by a fast horse (Siyouni) - who was by Pivotal, who can get them to stay - but Siyouni is out of a Danehill mare, and Maqsad is bred 3x3 to Danehill, so there is no guarantee.

"However, there is stamina on her female side because the dam is by Galileo. So it's in the lap of the gods a bit, but she's got plenty of class and hopefully that will get her a long way - we'll just have to see whether it gets her the whole way. Heading there with a chance in both Classics is why we are in this game."

If Maqsad fails to land the spoils on Friday, then the team will still feel positive going into Saturday’s Derby, with Madhmoon trading at 12/1 for the richest flat race in England, suggesting that the three-year-old has a strong each-way chance at the very least.

Madhmoon finished fourth in the recent 2000 Guineas and has become a popular horse on the Flat circuit, with trainer Kevin Prendergast having also engineered a victory over Broome which suggests some strong form arriving at Epsom.

The trainer is concerned about whether the horse has the requisite stamina to win a Derby, with Sir Dragonet currently trading as the 11/4 favourite for the race and Aidan O’Brien’s charge was mightily impressive at Chester at a recent meeting.

Broome and Telecaster are both trading at around the 5/1 mark, with fifteen horses currently entered in the Epsom classic although Prendergast feels as though his horse has the class to win.

Speaking on Tuesday, Prendergast said: “There are no guarantees and we can’t be certain that Madhmoon will stay the distance. But both his wins last year were over a mile and when a horse wins over a mile at two they often go on and stay middle distances.

“When he won a Group 2 at Leopardstown in September it took him a good furlong and a half to pull up. He’s never shown any signs of stopping in his races and that was the case in the Guineas at Newmarket.

“He did a bit this morning and is in very good form. His jockey is happy, I’m happy, the lads in the yard are happy and I think the horse is happy too. I’m expecting him to run a very good race.”

"They always used to say 'fourth in the Guineas, first in the Derby'," said Angus Gold. "Obviously he's going to have to improve, but it was a good run in the Guineas. He was a little outpaced before staying on, and (jockey) Chris Hayes said he went a long way up the hill.

"Chris thinks he'll definitely get further. I'm sure he'll get a mile and a quarter - but whether he gets a mile and a half is something only Saturday will tell us. His sire (Dawn Approach) didn't get the trip, but that doesn't mean he won't. This is as good a place as any to discover it."

Al Maktoum has previously enjoyed two successes in the Derby. Nashwan was victorious in 1989 before Erhaab delivered the goods in 1994. The famous owner has enjoyed three wins in the Oaks, with Salsabil, Eswarah and Taghrooda scoring for the owner.

Jockey Chris Hayes will ride in the Derby for the first time, having been on board Madhmoon for every race in his career to date and the jockey has previously had big race success when riding for Prendergast.

In 2016, Hayes was on board Awtaad in the Irish 2000 Guineas and will now hope to score the biggest win of his career at Epsom.

The former champion apprentice said on Tuesday: “It’s a dream come true for me to be riding in the Derby on a colt with a genuine chance, having already run very well in a Classic. I’m very grateful to his owner for standing by me and giving me such an opportunity.

Madhmoon seems to be very well. He did a lovely bit of work at the weekend. I sat on him again this morning and will do again on Thursday morning.

“Of course the trip will be unknown territory for him. To me he feels and rides like a mile-and-a-quarter horse but I’ve been told many times that’s what you need for the Derby. All we want is nice ground and a nice draw. If we get both, I think Madhmoon will be very competitive."