It was Federico Tesio who made the most memorable quote about the world’s most famous race, the Derby: “The thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended not on experts, technicians or zoologists but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby.”   

The trials for 2021’s race — scheduled for June 5 — suggest the mile-and-a-half classic could provide super sire Galileo with his sixth success. Two of his sons, Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition, head the Derby market — the former a six-lengths winner of the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

Galileo himself won the Derby in 2001 with a performance in which Timeform stated he “quite simply, he proved a class apart”.

Probably Galileo’s most famous son is unbeaten 14-time winner Frankel who never ran in the Derby. But sons of Galileo successful at Epsom are New Approach, Ruler Of The World, Australia, Anthony Van Dyck and 2020’s long-shot winner Serpentine.

Irish trainer Jim Bolger, who trained New Approach, put his hat in the ring for the 2021 Derby with a 1-2 finish by his three-year-olds Mac Swiney and Poetic Flare in last weekend’s Irish 2000 Guineas.

Mac Swine’s rider Rory Cleary was over the moon with the victory despite picking up a six-day ban for excessive use of the whip. He told reporters: “Mr Bolger is such a special man to leave me in charge of riding a horse like that. He’s a true legend and a gentleman.”

Former top jockey Johnny Murtagh said: “He seems to be a very intelligent horse and the type of horse you would love on your side at Epsom.”

There is one worry for supporters of Mac Swiney, who is named after Terence MacSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork who died after a hunger strike in Brixton prison. No winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas has gone on to win the Derby since Grundy in 1975.

However, Bolger remains confident his horse will triumph at Epsom. “In my mind, there isn’t anything ahead of him — the form is there now.”

Gauteng bookmaker Lance Michael makes Bolshoi Ballet a 2-1 favourite for the Derby, with High Definition (4-1) and Mac Swiney one of four entries priced at 7-1.

(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)


2-1 Bolshoi Ballet

4-1 High Definition

7-1 Mac Swiney, John Leeper, Hurricane Lane, Mohaafth

10-1 Third Realm

14-1 Others


15-10 Linebacker

28-10 Kommetdieding

5-1 Second Base

10-1 Copper Mountain, Rascallion, Russian Rock, The Gatekeeper

25-1 Others


1-1 War Of Athena

14-10 Princess Calla

4-1 Netta

10-1 Chat Ching

25-1 Others


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