A year after paying £8,000 to enter Workforce in the Group One Investec Derby, leading owner/breeder Khalid Abdulla could bid to unearth another superstar in the shapes of Picture Editor, Midsummer Sunand Sea Moon, who were also added to the Epsom Downs Classic at the second entry stage last week.
Workforce became the first second entry to triumph in the Investec Derby last year as he stormed to a stunning seven-length victory over At First Sight in a course record time, handing his owner a third success in the race following Quest For Fame (1990) and Commander In Chief (1993).
Abdulla’s Classic crop this year looks stronger than ever with a total of seven horses going forward for the £1.25 million Investec Derby, run on Saturday, June 4, also including current red-hot 2,000 Guineas favourite Frankel and the unraced trio of World Domination, Eagles Peak and No Such Number.
Picture Editor won two of his three starts as a juvenile for Henry Cecil, including when taking a 10-furlong Leicester conditions race by 30 lengths at the start of October. Stable companion Midsummer Sun, a half-brother to multiple Group/Grade One heroine and Investec Oaks runner-up Midday, is set to make his debut at Newmarket on Wednesday.
Like Workforce, Sea Moon is trained by five-time Investec Derby-winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute and the son of Beat Hollow, a comfortable winner of a Yarmouth maiden in October, could make his seasonal return in one of the leading Derby trials over the coming weeks.
Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Abdulla, revealed today: “Picture Editor won his maiden at Doncaster nicely and it looked quite a good race at the time. He then bolted up in a three-horse race at Leicester, which was a bit of a non-event, and he worked really well going into the Zetland Stakes but disappointed on the day.
“There was nothing wrong with him afterwards, so it probably was a case of him being over the top by then. He has come through the winter quite well and we have quite decent hopes for him.
“He has been entered in a 10-furlong conditions race at Newbury on Friday but he may well turn up on Saturday in the Greenham Stakes at the same course to do another part-time job in ensuring a good gallop for Frankel.
“Frankel has a very good cruising pace but you really don’t want a crawl in any trial – the whole idea is to bring him on for a Classic and there wouldn’t be much point in running if it was just a crawl.
“Midsummer Sun runs in a 10-furlong maiden at Newmarket tomorrow. He was slightly more of a backward type last season but he has come on well so far this year. He is bred to get the mile and a half of the Investec Derby but he is only making his debut and all will be revealed tomorrow.
“Sea Moon was a little bit unlucky in a maiden at Leicester first time out and then he won on heavy going at Yarmouth, when he and the runner-up were nine lengths clear of the third home.
“It’s hard to get a real evaluation of him from that run due to the ground and the type of race but he has done very well over the winter.
“He is from the same family as Workforce but there was some debate at this point last year whether he would stay the Investec Derby trip. Sea Moon is by Beat Hollow, who was beaten by a pair of Arc winners in the 2000 Derby, and he gives the impression that he would stay a mile and a half quite comfortably.
“We will probably start him off in one of the Derby trials. He is just beginning to have his work stepped up at the moment and we will be looking at Sandown Park, Chester, York or Lingfield for him.
“It depends on how the other horses are going and we will try and sort out some pecking order if we are lucky enough to have several contenders for the Investec Derby.”
The build up for this year’s Investec Derby steps up a gear over the coming weeks with a host of key trials, beginning with the £30,000 Investec Derby Trial, run over 10 furlongs of the famous Derby course at the Investec Spring Meeting on Wednesday, April 20.