Derby Trial winner unable to run in the Classic

The irony of yesterday’s Investec Derby Trial is that the winner, Goldoni, has no chance of taking part in the Derby itself. This is despite the introduction of a “win and you’re in” concession that guarantees the winner of the trial a place in the Derby.

That is, if the horse is a stallion. And Goldoni isn’t: he was gelded last year, and geldings have been excluded from the Derby since 1904. It’s just the sort of scenario that the earlier Goldoni, an 18th century Italian playwright, might have included as a sub plot in one of his comedies.

Epsom and Investec have to be praised for their efforts to promote the race. Alongside the wildcard entry to the Derby, they nearly doubled prize money for the race. Yet it still only attracted six runners. That didn’t bother Goldoni’s trainer Andrew Balding, and he was sanguine about his charge’s ineligibility for the Classic in June.

Balding said, “It would have been nice to have a runner in the Derby but he wouldn’t be the horse he is now if we hadn’t gelded him. His work has improved dramatically since we did it and I’ve no regrets. It’s a good prize he’s won and it’s made him a very valuable horse. We’ll probably go for the Lingfield Derby Trial now and then he’ll have an entry in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot, in which geldings can run.”

Yesterday’s race confirmed long term support from the investment bank for the Derby; they have signed a sponsorship deal for the race that runs until 2021. Raymond van Niekerk, Investec’s global head of marketing set out the reasons for such a long-term deal. “Britain is lucky to have some brilliant key events in the sporting calendar and the Derby is very much one of those. We’ve done a few things in the three years that we have been sponsoring the race but now we’re ready to take those things to a new level.”