Balding strikes in Epsom opener

Drochaid ridden by Oisin Murphy (left) wins the Investec Private Banking Handicap on Derby Day

A round-up of the early action from Epsom on Derby day as Andrew Balding's Drochaid won the opening 10-furlong handicap.

Drochaid just held off the late lunge of Emenem to win the Investec Private Banking Handicap.

Andrew Balding's three-year-old has been in consistent form and was following up a win at Chelmsford last time out.

In a typically messy Epsom handicap, Franny Norton dived for the rail on Emenem, causing Aaron Jones on Hajaj to snatch up as Emenem made strong late progress.

A confident-looking Oisin Murphy may have got a fright as eventually Emenem closed to within a neck of Drochaid (11/2), with Desert Skyline another length back in third.

Murphy said: "He'd not as much experience as the others, but he travelled well and won easily.

"I think he is a horse who could take another step up when he goes up in trip."

Balding said: "It was a really good effort, we'll have to have a think now. You'd hope he'd go on and improve.

"To be honest we were confident he would see the trip out well. Oisin had him in the right place. I am delighted and he is an improving horse.

"He tends to do that (be a bit keen), but he is a tough horse that always keeps finding. He is going in the right direction and there might be more to come.

"We are working through the grades and we might have a look at a valuable mile-and-a-quarter handicap at the July meeting at Newmarket."

Balding also looked back at Horseplay's fourth-placed finish in the Oaks on Friday.

Speaking to Racing UK, he said: "Initially I was a little bit disappointed, but on reflection I think she ran a good race.

"We'll be looking at Group races for the rest of the season and maybe even the St Leger."

Caspian Prince won the Investec Corporate Banking Dash for a third time and for his third different trainer.

The front-running eight-year-old was drawn widest of all in stall one, but as ever he was away quickly under Tom Eaves and was soon at the head of affairs.

He had a break on the field in the final 100 yards and looked home and hosed, only for Duke Of Firenze, another former winner, and Dark Shot to launch late challenges.

The three flashed past together, with Caspian Prince (25/1) adding Tony Coyle's name to the roll of honour alongside Tony Carroll and Dean Ivory, who had previously trained him to victory in this valuable contest.

Dark Shot, last at halfway, was a short-head second, with Duke Of Firenze just a nose away in third.

Owner Stephen Louch said: "What a story, triple Dash! I can't believe it today, I wasn't expecting it, I really wasn't."

Eaves said: "This lad knows more about this place than me. The team have done a great job."

Coyle said: "It feels great, he loves this place. I've only had him six weeks and he knows this place better than most of us. I know changing yards doesn't impress everyone, but it just helps freshen him up.

"I know he had a negative draw today, but with his style of running I knew he would get to where he wanted to be, as he is so quick. He barely gets five furlongs and the downhill in the first furlong just helps him get home.

"In the stalls he was so settled and he barely turned a hair in the parade ring, but if you take him to Musselburgh or Beverley you can't keep the lid on him for some reason. He will go to Musselbugh in a couple of weeks, all being well."

Soldier In Action was a game winner of the Investec Out Of The Ordinary Handicap to give James Doyle a double on the day.

Mark Johnston's runner had been hurdling for Nicky Henderson in the winter and finished last in the Triumph Hurdle.

Second in the early stages behind stablemate Sennockian Star, the 12/1 chance kicked clear before having to fend off Eddystone Rock close home to win by two lengths.

Johnston said: "He's been out of form a bit but he went jumping, after one good run he lost a lot of weight and it's taken time to get him back.

"He had a very hard race at Cheltenham and Nicky was a bit embarrassed sending him back given how much weight he's lost.

"He was very good last year and it was worth a try to see if he was a Triumph horse."

Johnston had been out of luck in the Derby, with Dante winner Permian finishing 10th to Wings Of Eagles.

He added: "Permian was disappointing, with Cracksman and Benbatl in front of us I don't think he's run his race.

"William (Buick) felt although he'd run here before he didn't handle the track, but I'd have to think about that.

"Maybe faster ground downhill didn't suit him, we'd be keen to get him back with some give in the ground."

Reputation (25/1) came late to beat Naggers in the closing Investec Asset Management Handicap to give John Quinn and Jason Hart a winner on Derby day.


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