Racing

Kameko now Derby favourite

British champion jockey Oisin Murphy can dream big following his English 2000 Guineas victory

British champion jockey Oisin Murphy is afraid "to dream too big" but he will be forgiven if his reverie does include him and Kameko adding the Derby to the English 2000 Guineas.

The 24-year-old Irishman's first British classic success on Saturday could not have been more memorable, as the horse whose name means "child of tortoise" in Japanese made history by posting the fastest time (1min 34.72sec) in the 1,600m race which was first run in 1809.

His 10-1 shot beat Wichita (15-2) by a neck, with a length to the previously unbeaten 5-6 favourite Pinatubo.

With the victory, bookmakers have installed the Andrew Balding-trained colt the 3-1 favourite for the Derby.

As thrilling as it was for Murphy to break his British classics duck, he said there are two races that he wants to win above all others. One is the Derby, which ironically should have taken place on Saturday but was moved to July 4 at Epsom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am afraid to dream too big because often they don't work out," he said at the post-race press conference. "This victory is at the top so far as I am only 24.

"However, obviously the Arc (Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe) and Derby are my two favourite races and that has not changed."

Murphy, who is seen as the likeliest successor to superstar and good friend Frankie Dettori as a talent and a crowd-pleasing entertainer, said he would love to attempt the Derby but the decision is not in his hands.

"I could not tell you whether he is an intended runner or not," he said. "However, the Sheikh (Fahad Al-Thani) is a sporting owner and Andrew would love to emulate his father."

Balding has already gone one better than his father Ian in winning the Guineas. Ian's greatest horse Mill Reef lost to another legend of the turf, Brigadier Gerard, in 1971.

The thought of adding the Derby - a race his father and Mill Reef won after the Guineas disappointment - could well prove irresistible to the 47-year-old.

This despite having niggling doubts Kameko may not have the stamina to see out the Derby's extra 800 metres, compared to the Guineas.

"My current thoughts are Royal Ascot will come too soon (June 16-20)," he said. "To me, it looks the obvious choice, there would be a stamina doubt, but there's only one way to find out.

"We have to let David (Redvers, racing manager), Sheikh Fahad and Oisin all put in their opinions.

"He will certainly get a mile and a quarter (2,000m), but there is a certain race over a mile and a half (2,400m) in July (the Derby) that would be quite appealing. He is certainly the best three-year-old around."

Kameko's future programme lies in the reliable hands of Balding and Murphy.

Murphy was thrilled to win for Balding.

"I wanted to carry him on my shoulders and swing him round and make him dizzy," he said.

Only social distancing regulations prevented him from doing so, but should they add the Derby on July 4, there may be no stopping him - rules or no rules.

Racing in England is held behind closed doors and jockeys have to wear masks. - AFP

HORSE RACING