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• Goodwood winner Private Secretary skips Epsom for Ascot
• O’Brien set to send at least six runners for Classic

Frankie Dettori rode the winner of Goodwood’s only Derby trial on Friday as Private Secretary outstayed six rivals in the Cocked Hat Stakes but then confirmed that he will probably need a call to partner one of Aidan O’Brien’s extensive team of runners if he is to take a 24th ride in the Epsom Classic a week on Saturday.

John Gosden, Private Secretary’s trainer and who retains Dettori to ride, still has Humanitarian, a fluent winner at Salisbury this month, among the possible runners for the Derby. Dettori, though, said after Private’s Secretary’s success that even if Humanitarian lines up at Epsom, he will not be in the saddle. “No,” he said, “John’s told me that I can look elsewhere.”

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British racing’s top jumps handicapper sincerely hopes Tiger Roll goes for a historic third straight Grand National win but says the race weights he allots must be ‘fair for everybody’

British racing’s top jumps handicapper has rebuffed a call from the owners of Tiger Roll, asking for the horse to be given lenient treatment when the weights are set for next year’s Grand National. “You can’t blackmail a system to get him running,” said Martin Greenwood, responding to a suggestion that the horse might not attempt to win the Aintree race for a third time unless his rating was reduced.

Eddie O’Leary, who manages the racing interests of his brother, Michael, said last month: “They say they condense the weights to encourage the good horses to run. If the National isn’t well condensed, Tiger Roll won’t run. If they want him – it’s up to themselves. He will be 11st 10lb. He will obviously be top weight. But if it’s not condensed down enough, he won’t be running. We’ve seen horses condensed 7lb to 9lb before.”

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‘We went too big, too quick,’ says owner, whose partnership faced annual running costs of £500,000

Mike Grech says he may not be able to face attending a Doncaster sales ring today to witness the dispersal of the string of jumps horses he built up with his friend and co-owner, Stuart Parkin. “It’s going to be incredibly sad,” Grech said as he reflected on the sale of 28 horses, including classy types like Claimantakinforgan, River Wylde and Mr Whipped, all to be offered without reserve.

Asked if he would be present, Grech said: “I’m not too sure. I’m a very emotional guy, I’m not an actor. If I want to show tears, I’ll show tears and I don’t know whether it’s appropriate tomorrow. I might watch it on the live-stream online.

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Drainage work problems have plagued the track since the Ayr Gold Cup was transferred to Haydock in 2017

It has been a long time coming but Ayr’s Flat racing season gets underway on Wednesday, when the track’s executives will hope to draw a final line under a troubled period in the course’s 248-year history.

Three meetings at Ayr have been abandoned already this year because the course took longer than expected to recover from drainage work over the winter, and that was in turn carried out to address problems identified after the entire Western meeting in September – the most prestigious event of the year on the Flat in Scotland – was lost in 2017.

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• Ballydoyle operation leaning towards Epsom over French Derby
• Too Darn Hot may make surprise switch to Irish Guineas

Epsom racecourse was bathed in sunshine for the annual Breakfast With The Stars event here on Tuesday to preview the Derby meeting next week, but the fog at the top of the ante-post betting for the Classic on 1 June scarcely lifted as both Aidan O’Brien and Hughie Morrison refused to commit leading contenders Sir Dragonet and Telecaster to the race.

Sir Dragonet, perhaps, seems a little more likely to put his unbeaten record on the line in the Classic after O’Brien told Tuesday’s audience that he expects to run “a good crew” of colts from his Ballydoyle stable on Saturday week.

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The Ballydoyle trainer has four of the top six in the betting for the Epsom Derby but has even spoken of running likely favourite Sir Dragonet at Chantilly

This year, more than any other year, it has become important to anticipate Aidan O’Brien’s running plans for the Derby. The master of Ballydoyle has four of the top six in the betting plus other potential runners, only he’s considering sending a couple of them to the French Derby instead. He has even spoken of the possibility of Sir Dragonet, who would start favourite for Epsom if he ran there, turning up at Chantilly. A significant edge awaits any punter who can work out the plans in advance although he has been speaking this morning at the ‘Breakfast With The Stars’ press conference.

So, in an effort to climb inside Aidan’s head and work out his motivation, I had a look through his record in the French Derby. My tentative thesis was that the horses he’s run there over the years have not proved to be of any great consequence in the long run, reflecting the reality that it’s not a priority for him, and therefore he’d be unlikely to send such a promising young animal as Sir Dragonet.

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• Father Paddy just missed out at Epsom in 1960
• Madhmoon was fourth in 2,000 Guineas

If Madhmoon wins the Derby a week on Saturday, it will be a victory more than half a century in the making. The sturdy colt is trained in Ireland by Kevin Prendergast, whose father, Paddy, prepared winners of all the other English Classics but never quite managed to land the blue riband itself.

“He was second in it several times,” noted Prendergast Jr, aged 86. “They always ran well in it but just never clicked on the day. And that was in the days when you had to get the boat over and travel all over England by box.”

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Jockey who partnered the greatest Flat racehorse has since fallen from favour and hasn’t had a winner since December

The Tin Man enlivens Monday night’s card at Windsor by making his seasonal reappearance there. He’s a really likeable veteran sprinter who always makes me think of Tom Queally, the Irishman having twice won big races on him Ascot, but Oisin Murphy was given the ride in the autumn and looks set to keep it.

Related: Davy Russell makes a breakthrough in Grand Steeplechase de Paris

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• Jockey realises ambition with victory on chance ride Carriacou
• Willie Mullins’ five runners eclipsed by French-trained winner

The fruitful autumn of Davy Russell’s career continued as he rode Carriacou to win the Grand Steeplechase de Paris, the French equivalent of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The race was notable for a strong challenge by Willie Mullins, who fielded five runners in an attempt to be the first trainer from Britain or Ireland to take the prize since 1962, but it produced a different kind of Irish success as Russell enjoyed an easy victory just a month short of his 40th birthday.

Explaining how he came in for the ride, Russell said: “I only got a phone call, I think on Friday, to see if I could do the weight, and I could thankfully. We’ve watched this race in awe from afar. All through my career I always really wanted to take part in it and never got the opportunity until now. I was really pleased just to have a ride in the race.”

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  • War of Will captures Preakness Stakes from the inside No 1 post
  • Everfast finishes a nose ahead of Owendale for second at Pimlico
  • Bodexpress keeps running after ejecting jockey John Velazquez

Mark Casse completed a lifelong quest two weeks after the scare of a lifetime. And he did so in a race featuring a riderless horse that threw his jockey out of the gate and kept running.

Since he was a child, Casse wanted to win a Triple Crown race, and the well-respected trainer got that victory when War of Will bounced back from a bumpy ride in the Kentucky Derby to win the Preakness on Saturday.

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