Murtagh ignores Fame and Glory

Jockey turns his back on Derby favourite to ride Rip Van Winkle on Saturday

Johnny Murtagh, who had to choose between six of the 13 colts still in the Investec Derby, yesterday rejected the favourite, Fame And Glory, and instead allowed his "soft spot" for Rip Van Winkle to harden into a daring toss of the dice.

Fame And Glory's pedigree seems to guarantee improvement for the extra test of stamina at Epsom on Saturday; the genes of Rip Van Winkle, in contrast, permit plenty of doubt as to whether he will stay the trip. But Murtagh, the Ballydoyle stable jockey, has none the less resolved to surrender Fame And Glory to his understudy, Seamus Heffernan.

Aidan O'Brien, the Ballydoyle trainer, stressed that riding arrangements were "not written in stone" but confirmed that Murtagh's present intention is to ride Fame And Glory, who finished fourth to Sea The Stars in the 2,000 Guineas last month.

Provisional bookings have also been made for the stable's four other Derby colts. Masterofthehorse, who has thrived since his encouraging rehearsal at Chester, is set to be ridden by Richard Hughes; Golden Sword, who stole first run that day, once again by Colm O'Donoghue; Age Of Aquarius, the Lingfield trial winner, by Pat Smullen; and Black Bear Island, impressive in the Dante Stakes, by Ryan Moore.

Murtagh's decision had been somewhat anticipated in the betting, and Totesport last night responded to its confirmation by again trimming the odds against Rip Van Winkle, to 4-1 from 13-2, and easing Fame And Glory to the same price. But his backers should not necessarily be disheartened. Murtagh did not partner the colt when he was so impressive in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown – the race favoured by O'Brien for both his previous Derby winners, Galileo and High Chaparral – because he was riding at Longchamp that day. Murtagh, moreover, only rode High Chaparral to win at Epsom in 2002 because the stable jockey at the time, Michael Kinane, had persevered with Hawk Wing – who was himself stepping up half a mile after running in the Guineas.

Heffernan, meanwhile, has graduated over recent years from a cherished work rider into an accomplished jockey for the big occasion, notably in winning consecutive Irish Derbys. He had already professed the hope that Murtagh might turn his back on Fame And Glory, and compares his Derrinstown performance favourably to those of Galileo and High Chaparral. He rode both those colts at Leopardstown, and believes Fame And Glory will be very hard to beat.

To that extent, Murtagh's decision can be counted a rather quixotic one. True, Rip Van Winkle's form is strictly the stronger, and his ring-rusty display in the Guineas implied that he could well prove the best colt in the field by the end of the season. But while he is by Galileo, his dam is by the sprinter, Stravinsky. Fame And Glory is by Montjeu out of a Shirley Heights mare and was able to win a Group One over 10 furlongs in searching ground at Saint-Cloud last autumn.

One way or another, destiny seems to summon O'Brien in a race where all the jockeys will wear black armbands in honour of his predecessor and namesake, Vincent O'Brien, who saddled six Derby winners from Ballydoyle and died on Monday at the age of 92.

The prize certainly seems fated to go to Ireland, with only five outsiders trained on British soil. But there were some optimistic words yesterday from Saeed bin Suroor, who believes that Kite Wood will improve considerably for his fifth place in the Dante.

"I think a mile and a half will really suit him," the Godolphin trainer said. "We just need the ground to be good. All our horses are improving for a run. When this horse ran at York, he needed the race and wasn't beaten far. He was happy and fresh [in his work] today, and that is always a good sign before a big race."

In contrast Harry Dunlop suffered the misery of seeing Three Moons, his candidate for the Investec Oaks on Friday, finish her final gallop with a minor injury.

Investec Derby (Totesport odds): 11-4 Sea The Stars, 4-1 Fame And Glory, Rip Van Winkle, 6-1 Gan Amhras, 9-1 Black Bear Island, 16-1 Masterofthehorse, 25-1 others.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Implication (8.50 Kempton)

NB: The Magic Blanket (6.50 Kempton)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Inside Sales - OTE to £45,000

£25000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a leading supplier of bu...

Recruitment Genius: Installation Engineer - Driveway

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative, fast growing f...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Project Manager - Technical

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a Jun...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral