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Epsom Derby: Bolshoi Ballet pleases trainer Aidan O’Brien after ‘smooth’ preparation

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Aidan O’Brien has just one Derby runner for the first time since 2004 after deciding to send ante-post favourite High Definition to Irish Derby; O’Brien on Bolshoi Ballet: “He’s a very uncomplicated horse, you can ride him anywhere in the race”

Bolshoi Ballet ridden by Ryan Lee Moore

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has explained his decision to leave Bolshoi Ballet as his sole Derby runner and says it has been a straightforward preparation for the race favourite.

The Ballysax Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial winner is all the rage to provide trainer O’Brien with a record ninth victory in the premier Classic.

As expected, the Galileo colt is the sole Ballydoyle representative, with long-time ante-post favourite High Definition, Sir Lamorak, Van Gogh, Kyprios and The Mediterranean all not declared. It is the first time since 2004 O’Brien has saddled just one horse in the Derby.

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Explaining the decision, O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “All the other horses had different options and they’ve decided to split up the two top horses.

“We’re happy with him [Bolshoi Ballet]. Everything has gone very smooth.

High Definition is set to miss the Epsom Derby

“He’s a very uncomplicated horse, you can ride him anywhere in the race. He’s always been very straight-forward and well-balanced.”

Jim Bolger’s Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Mac Swiney and Joseph O’Brien’s Southern Lights are the other Irish challengers, while the home team includes Ed Dunlop’s John Leeper.

Two-time Derby-winning jockey Frankie Dettori will ride John  Leeper at Epsom on Saturday


Frankie Dettori has been called up to partner John Leeper – named after his trainer’s late father John Dunlop. Dettori had been set to ride one of O’Brien’s runners, but his last-minute availability means he replaces Adam Kirby.


Kirby does still have a ride, however, after being booked to ride Charlie Appleby’s apparent third string Adayar.

John Leeper with jockey Adam Kirby, who takes the ride in the 2021 Epsom Derby

Appleby also saddles unbeaten Dante winner Hurricane Lane, the chosen mount of William Buick, and 2000 Guineas sixth One Ruler, who will be ridden by James Doyle.

The William Haggas-trained Mohaafeth steps up in class after winning each of his three previous starts this season.

Rory Cleary celebrates victory on board Mac Swiney in the Irish 2,000 Guineas

Roger Varian’s Third Realm and Andrew Balding’s Youth Spirit have earned their tilt at Derby glory by winning the Lingfield Derby Trial and the Chester Vase respectively.

Gear Up (Mark Johnston) and Mojo Star (Richard Hannon) are the other hopefuls.

Alex Hammond's Derby & Oaks longshots

Alex Hammond's Derby & Oaks longshots

Find out who Sky Sports Racing's Alex Hammond thinks might be overlooked for Saturday's Classics at Epsom.

Epsom draw:

Stall 1 – Adayar

Stall 2 – Third Realm

Stall 3 – Southern Lights

Stall 4 – Mohaafeth

Stall 5 – Hurricane Lane

Stall 6 – Gear Up

Stall 7 – Youth Spirit

Stall 8 – Mac Swiney

Stall 9 – Bolshoi Ballet

Stall 10 – Mojo Star

Stall 11 – One Ruler

Stall 12 – John Leeper

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