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Rewilding, Al Zir & Buzzword Ready for Investec Derby

With three serious candidates and two of the world’s best jockeys on side it is little wonder the Godolphin team are eager for the Group One contest at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 5.

Saeed bin Suroor's charge Al Zir takes his chances in the G1 Classic

Al Zir

Al Zir, Buzzword and Rewilding have all shown enough to go on short-lists for the world’s most famous race, and with former champions Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon being joined by past Dubai champion apprentice Ahmed Ajtebi there is every chance Godolphin’s famous blue colours will nail a first Investec Derby win (Lammtarra, the team’s winner in 1995 carried different silks).

Racing manager Simon Crisford said today: “The Derby is a unique race and one we love to be involved with - if we win it, even better.”

Al Zir (Fallon) is stabled with Godolphin’s long-standing trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, who is no stranger to Epsom, and Buzzword (Ajtebi) and Rewilding (Dettori) are handled by Mahmood Al Zarooni, who gained a British licence earlier this year and makes his debut at the Investec Derby meeting.

Crisford said of the new trainer: “He’s pretty relaxed. He’s very excited about the occasion and he has two nice horses, particularly Rewilding who is a very strong contender.

“Sheikh Mohammed [Godolphin’s founder] chose Rewilding for Frankie, but it was a straightforward decision after the horse won [the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes] at Goodwood last month. He has a mile and a half pedigree, goes on any ground and is a fast-improving colt. Andre [Fabre, who trained the colt until three weeks before making his British debut for Al Zarooni] said he was improving and anything but an easy win at Goodwood would have been disappointing.”

Al Zir will be better for a step up in trip, said Crisford, who added: “We’ve not seen him at his best over a mile - at a mile and a half he could be a serious contender. For a big horse he’s extremely well balanced, which is crucial here, and he has a high cruising speed. In races like the Guineas he’s just lacked the acceleration you find in a champion, but over a longer trip he can come into his own.”

Of Buzzword, who like Rewilding was given a late entry to the race on Monday at a cost of £75,000 per horse, Crisford said: “He worked really well after running so promisingly in the French 2000 Guineas [when fourth to Lope de Vega]. He was staying on at the end of that race and we were really keen to try him over a longer trip.

“We made the decision to run him after he worked last weekend - he’s a legitimate contender and the third-top-rated runner in the race. He tries hard and he’s an honest, genuine horse.”



Kieren Fallon, Britain’s six-time champion jockey, returns to the scene of some of his greatest triumphs at Epsom’s Investec Derby meeting.

The ride on Godolphin’s Al Zir will be his first in the Investec Derby since 2006. He has won the race three times - on Oath (1999), Kris Kin (2003) and North Light (2004).

Fallon said: “Epsom is a favourite track of mine because I’ve been lucky here over the years. [In the Derby] I like to take my time. Much depends on the pace of the race and how it unfolds - whether you kick or whether you sit. It’s great when it works but not so nice when it backfires.”

Asked about his time out of the sport due to suspensions caused by positive drug tests and inquiries into race-fixing allegations (the court case collapsed and Fallon was found innocent), Fallon said: “I missed not being able to ride over the years, but the time off did me no harm. I’ve done a lot of travelling while taking a break and it came at the right time. I hope to have many more years in the game because of what happened.”

He admitted a recent lean spell had revealed he was just short of his brilliant best, but a Listed win on Luca Cumani’s Seta and a four-timer at Ayr had rebuilt his confidence. “I wasn’t riding well,” he said, “but recently changed my agent [from Dave Pollington to Gareth Owen] and things have just started to happen. Within a couple of days I felt back where I wanted to be. My timing was right and that helps my horses win races. Going to Italy and winning the Oaks last weekend helped so I feel really good at the moment and I’m looking forward to this weekend.”

Of Al Zir he said: “He comes into the race as the third top horse on speed figures and I hope he’ll improve on that over this distance - I’m looking forward to riding him.”

And if he couldn’t be on Al Zir, who would he choose? “Midas Touch,” he said. “The time he did at Leopardstown [when winning the Derrinstown Stud Trial] was better than Galileo and High Chaparral [who both went on to victory at Epsom] which speaks for itself.”

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, said of Fallon: “I believe Kieren’s ridden 15 times for us over the years and partnered three winners. While he was with Ballydoyle he didn’t ride much for us, but we’re delighted to have him in the saddle tomorrow on Al Zir.

“We have a lot of established jockeys in the stable, but we hope to use Kieren in future and he is the king around Epsom on Derby Day.”


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