Ocovango looking to follow in the hoofprints of Pour Moi

Bill Esdaile
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IN 2011 Andre Fabre brought over an unexposed three-year-old to Epsom’s ‘Breakfast with the Stars’ event to give his Investec Derby contender a taste of the idiosyncratic track. A week later Pour Moi had run out a brilliant winner of Britain’s premier Classic.

And at Epsom yesterday the racing media assembled to watch Fabre’s Ocovango strut his stuff around the unique undulations of this famous course.

Whether the gallop was a true guide to his ability is questionable, as his work companion set a very slowly run test and they were ran up the centre of the track.

But with his young jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot in the saddle, he moved stylishly past his stablemate up the home straight to finish well clear.

His genius trainer described it as “a serious bit of work” and his Monsun colt as having “very good balance and a good cruising speed and, I hope, the ability”.

Ocovango is a confirmed runner and while admitting to slight stamina doubts, Fabre was more concerned about the presence of Dawn Approach in the line-up, a horse that stands “above all others”.

The Chantilly handler believes he has a real live chance to add to Pour Moi’s success but fears the field might just be “playing for places” if Dawn Approach turns up in form.

Sticking to the international theme and Andreas Wohler confirmed that leading German contender Chopin will be supplemented on Monday.

Wohler reports the horse to be relaxed in his work and he has no worries about the mile and a half trip.

He also revealed they never really planned to come to Epsom but Chopin’s new owners, Qatar Bloodstock, wanted to have a shot at glory. He ended by saying “the faster they go, the better” for his charge’s chances in the “Derby of all Derbies”.

Three-time Investec Derby winner Aidan O’Brien joined by telephone from Ballydoyle to say he was no closer to clarifying his riding party.

He confirmed Battle Of Marengo and Mars but plans for impressive Chester winners Ruler Of The World and Magician, who will probably run in Sunday’s Irish 2000 Guineas, are undecided.

Britain sadly lost its leading protagonist in Telescope. Following a disappointing exercise at Lingfield on Wednesday, Sir Michael Stoute reported the Highclere-owned horse to be sore this morning and ruled him out.

That disappointment leaves surprise Dante winner, Libertarian, as the shortest-priced home challenger at 16/1 with Coral.

Appropriately, virtually the last word came from Dawn Approach’s trainer Jim Bolger. He couldn’t be happier with his five-length 2000 Guineas winner who is eating more now, “costing me a fortune in food”, said Bolger.

He admitted to tiny doubts over stamina but “we won’t know until we try”.

The man who saddled Dawn Approach’s sire New Approach to Derby victory in 2008 said he would leave riding plans to Kevin Manning as he “knows every blade of grass around Epsom”.

Bolger’s final words were reserved for the opposition. He wishes them well but “won’t be losing any sleep over any of them” and, although he told Clare Balding his comment last week that “the best [Derby] trials took place at Coolcullen” was made in jest, it’s clear he’s confident that Dawn Approach can deliver in next Saturday’s £1.25m contest.