Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
PA Archive/PA Images Madhmoon, ridden by Chris Hayes.
# Optimistic
Madhmoon's Epsom Derby bid leaves trainer Prendergast and jockey Hayes full of hope
The son of Dawn Approach is an 11-1 shot for Saturday’s Classic.

MADHMOON WILL HEAD into unknown territory at Epsom on Saturday with the team behind the Investec Derby challenger hoping a bold approach endorsed by Hamdan Al Maktoum can deliver the owner’s first triumph in the Classic since 1994.

After bypassing the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Madhmoon will go beyond a mile for the first time in the heat of a Derby that will also be a first for jockey Chris Hayes.

The son of Dawn Approach, a general 11-1 shot for Epsom glory, was staying on powerfully when fourth in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, leaving Hayes and trainer Kevin Prendergast optimistic that he will thrive in a more searching test of stamina.

Prendergast said: “There are no guarantees and we can’t be certain that Madhmoon will stay the distance. But both his wins last year were over a mile and when a horse wins over a mile at two they often go on and stay middle distances. When he won a Group 2 at Leopardstown in September it took him a good furlong and a half to pull up.

“He’s never shown any signs of stopping in his races and that was the case in the Guineas at Newmarket. He did a bit this morning and is in very good form. His jockey is happy, I’m happy, the lads in the yard are happy and I think the horse is happy too. I’m expecting him to run a very good race.”

Tattersalls Irish Guineas Festival - Day One PA Wire Hayes with Awtaad and (right) trainer Kevin Prendergast after their Irish 2,000 Guineas victory in 2016. PA Wire

Hayes, who landed a Classic win for Prendergast with Awtaad in the Irish 2,000 Guineas three years ago, has been on board for all four of Madhmoon’s starts.

The former champion apprentice said on Tuesday: “It’s a dream come true for me to be riding in the Derby on a colt with a genuine chance, having already run very well in a Classic. I’m very grateful to his owner for standing by me and giving me such an opportunity.

Madhmoon seems to be very well. He did a lovely bit of work at the weekend. I sat on him again this morning and will do again on Thursday morning. Of course the trip will be unknown territory for him.

To me he feels and rides like a mile-and-a-quarter horse but I’ve been told many times that’s what you need for the Derby. All we want is nice ground and a nice draw. If we get both, I think Madhmoon will be very competitive.”

Kevin Prendergast’s last runner in the Derby was Tasdid in 1996. Also owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, he was sent off 200-1 and finished 12th, a respectable nine and three-quarter lengths behind Shaamit.

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