Jockey juggling act: Aidan O’Brien outlines rider options for Derby team

Tue 30 Jun 2020

William Buick, James Doyle and Adam Kirby are in the frame to pick up Investec Derby rides for Aidan O’Brien’s powerful squad.

While Ryan Moore will get first pick of the Ballydoyle challengers, there could be some potentially top-class spare rides available as coronavirus quarantine measures mean the likes of Seamus Heffernan may be unlikely to travel to Britain.

O’Brien has three Derby entries with similar chances according to the bookmakers in Mogul, Royal Ascot winner Russian Emperor and Irish Guineas runner-up Vatican City.

Watch how Vatican City finished second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas

Others in the Classic include Saturday’s Curragh winner Serpentine, Amhran Na Bhfiann, who is a brother to Oaks winner Was, Mythical and Armory, although the latter may yet run in Sunday’s French Derby.

“We don’t know what Ryan will ride. He’ll always make that decision late,” said O’Brien. “He’ll look at the draws, we’ll tell him what we think might happen, but it’s been different this year because Ryan isn’t here (working at Ballydoyle).

“Obviously he’ll make his decision late and then we’ll put everyone else on what we think will suit.

“We have James Doyle, William Buick and Adam Kirby and we have some of our own people, then we just have to decide what we want to do that way because with the restrictions at the moment, they can’t ride for two weeks.

Listen to our Investec Derby podcast

“There is a chance the restrictions will be lifted, but if they are not, they won’t be able to ride until after the Irish Oaks. If they are lifted they might be able to ride the following weekend.

“It’s all a little up in the air and we just need to see what is going to happen.”

Hear from Aidan O'Brien, Ed Walker and Andrew Balding in our Derby podcast

Commenting on the unusual situation this year caused by the travel restrictions, O’Brien said: “You do your best, you don’t want to mess anyone around, but ultimately the lads (Coolmore) will decide.

“We do our best to try not to let that happen and have the right riders on the right horses. Everyone is very understanding with the circumstances we are in at the minute.”

Asked if he favoured one of his Derby runners over the others, O’Brien added: “Any of them you have to think it could happen with.

“They’ve all got different profiles, but are in different stages of their training. It’s going to be so interesting – like the Irish Derby, anything could happen.

“We always hope for an even pace and a good clear run and and it could happen with any of them. I suppose Mogul has always looked the one, but it would have been lovely to get two runs into him.


“We always treat all the runners with total respect, but never concentrate on other people’s runners because it’s hard enough to get our own there.

“We just wish everybody the best of luck.”

Meanwhile, Hugo Palmer is to saddle his first Investec Derby runner when Emissary lines up.

Hugo Palmer revealed more about Emissary before the colt reappeared at Goodwood

The Kingman colt is certainly bred for the job as a half-brother to Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce.

Like Workforce, Emissary is owned by Khalid Abdullah and while he was beaten on his return to action at Goodwood in the Cocked Hat Stakes by Andrew Balding’s Khalifa Sat, who he will meet again, connections believe it is worth taking a chance with the unexposed colt.

“In this rather strange year we have to roll the dice,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, Abdullah’s racing manager. He’s by Kingman but his half-brother Workforce was by King’s Best, so you can look at it either way.

“There might be some stamina limitations, but he stayed nearly a mile and a half at Goodwood all right. I don’t think he’d mind whatever the ground was, so that is one thing we don’t need to worry about.”

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