Horse Racing by Jason Hall

THERE are just two weeks to go now until the 2011 renewal of The Derby at Epsom and as such it is just over a year since the Brighton-born jockey Ryan Moore rode the first Classic winners of his burgeoning career.

In this year’s contest, the opportunity to write himself into racing folklore will present itself to Ryan when he attempts to ride a first ever winner of The Derby for Her Majesty The Queen and in so doing supplement his own success in last season’s race.

Only Lester Piggott, Willie Carson and Kieran Fallon have won back to back renewals of the Derby in more than 40 years and to be associated with such revered names in the history of the saddle would be a great accolade in itself.

But to supply our nation’s monarch with her first success in what is the most prized event in the British and European racing calendar would be a feat that would break the boundaries of the sport itself and overflow into the conscious of the wider general public.

The resulting benefit to racing in widening the spectrum of the population that are aware of the sport and with it the potential to increase its regular audience is immeasurable. With that in mind the whole industry is willing that Ryan’s possible place in history will become a reality.

The hope is not just wild speculation either, as the Queen has the strong ante post favourite for the Derby in the shape of Carlton House and he will be her first runner in the race since 1981 when Church Street finished behind the legendary Shergar.

Shergar was trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who has five winners of the great race to his name, and he is responsible for preparing Carlton House.

The Queen bred the three-year-old from her own private stud and the colt comes into the Derby with the best form and with the potential to improve considerably on what he has shown to date.

I will look more closely at him and his potential rivals in this column on June 3, a day before the race takes place and in the meantime I – like the vast majority and I am sure, Ryan himself – will be praying that no ailment befalls Carlton House in his preparation for Epsom.

Elsewhere, there was racing at Brighton on Tuesday of this week and our local trainers Gary Moore and Jim Best improved their already excellent records at the track when they provided the winners of the opening two races on the card.

Rocker was a short-priced favourite for Moore and he justified that faith when coming with a sustained challenge on the outside of his field to win going away.

In sharp contrast, Jim Best’s Deerslayer had to overcome a 1/5 hotpot in his bid for success, but did so despite drifting from one side of the track to the other. The Stewards’ subsequently announced an enquiry, but they eventually deemed that the interference caused by the Best horse to the hot favourite could not be categorically said to have cost the eventual second the race.

Jim has now had a couple of winners this month from a limited number of runners and hopefully that winning trend will continue in the coming weeks after what was a surprisingly quiet jumps season for the very capable Lewes trainer.

Brighton will be staging a two-day meeting on Thursday and Friday. With fine weather forecast for the week ahead, the venue would make for a good day out.