Grand Alliance could be Charlie Fellowes’ first Cazoo Derby runner following his second in last week’s Blue Riband Trial at Epsom.
The Churchill colt found only Godolphin’s Nahanni too good in his first attempt at Listed level, beaten just half a length over 10 furlongs.
Fellowes is happy with the way Grand Alliance has come out of the race and is now preparing to step up the three-year-old’s work as the Bedford House Stables team build towards the first weekend in June.
“He has taken the race really well. He’s a straight-forward horse, he’s a bit of a cheeky chap, but to train he’s pretty easy,” said Fellowes.
“We put him in for the Derby at the second entry stage and at the moment the plan will be to head straight there without another run.”
Grand Alliance missed the turf campaign as a two-year-old, making a belated debut at Wolverhampton just before Christmas. Since then, the half-brother to Dutch Connection has hit the track once every month in 2022 and Fellowes believes that is enough experience to tackle the ultimate test of a three-year-old colt.
“He never ran on turf last year, so he never really got a break over the winter. He ran late December and then all the way through January, February and March and now April,” continued the trainer.
“He’s had five runs so I don’t think there’s any need to go and run him again in another trial. He’s got plenty of experience now, he’s an easy horse to get fit, we know he’s been round Epsom and handles the track.
“If you want to entertain running in a Derby, then you’ve got to focus your efforts on getting him prepared for Epsom in the first weekend in June. We’ve been delighted with how he’s progressed this year and he’s a really likeable tough horse.”
A winner in handicap company on his penultimate start, there is no doubt Grand Alliance has progressed through the ranks quickly this term, with the only box left to tick in regards fulfilling the complete Derby criteria being that one of stamina – something his trainer is optimistic won’t be an issue.
Fellowes said: “I actually think he’ll improve for a little bit of dig in the ground, even though he’s proven at both Doncaster and Epsom he handles quick ground no problem.
“The one big question is what he’s going to think of the step up in trip. On pedigree, very little of the family have stayed further than a mile, so he’s already bucked that trend.
“Whether he’ll stay a mile and a half remains to be seem, but he definitely wasn’t stopping at Epsom the other day and James (Doyle) said he struggled to pull him up, so there’s a real chance he could stay further than a mile and a quarter.”
Luca Cumani trained two Derby winners from the Bedford House Stables Fellowes operates out of and the three-time Royal Ascot winning trainer is relishing the prospect of saddling his first runner in the Epsom Classic having seen King Ottokar fail to make the final line-up in 2019.
“It’s just really special to be involved in a horse good enough to run in the Derby,” said the Newmarket handler.
“I got close to having a runner when King Ottokar won the conditions race at Newbury, but we found out at Chester that he didn’t stay and he wanted soft ground. This fella is a very different horse to that, he’s much more versatile and he’ll really give himself a chance.
“To be involved in a Derby for the first time, especially this year with it being the Queen’s Jubilee, is really exciting and hopefully he will go and run a really nice race.
“The owner Paul Roy was born in Epsom next to Tattenham Corner, so it will be a really special day whatever happens.”