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Sea The Stars set to shine brighter than O'Brien six

DERBY DAY is always one of the highlights of the British sporting calendar and thousands will make the pilgrimage to Epsom Downs tomorrow to watch the biggest flat race of them all. Arthur Budgett, a legend in the world of racing, will be one of those 100,000 spectators as he is guest of honour at the 2009 Investec Derby Festival.<br /><br />Budgett is the only man in the last 130 years to have bred, owned and trained two Derby winners and the successful owner tomorrow will be presented with a sculpture of the great man with his two winners Blakeney (winner in 1969) and Morston (winner in 1973). That owner, in my opinion, will be Mr Christopher Tsui, the man who pays the training bills for <strong>SEA THE STARS</strong>. <br /><br />His trainer John Oxx is no stranger to the Epsom winner&rsquo;s enclosure having led in Sinndar back in 2000, yet he arrives tomorrow with a horse who has already tasted Classic glory. Sea The Stars is bidding to become the first horse since Nashwan to land the Derby having won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket a few weeks earlier. Our selection didn&rsquo;t have the ideal build up for the first Classic of the season having reportedly been sick with a temperature just a few weeks before the race. Yet, he won in the manner of a true champion cruising to the head of affairs on the bridle and pulling out more when challenged by Delegator.<br /><br />The big &lsquo;if&rsquo; with Sea The Stars is whether he&rsquo;ll stay the 12 furlong trip and if he does, he is the one they all have to beat. A lot of breeding experts will tell you that it&rsquo;s crucial to have stamina on the Dam&rsquo;s side and that&rsquo;s not a problem for our selection. His mother, the late Urban Sea, was an Arc winner over this trip, while his father Cape Cross brings the required speed to the party. He can be backed at 10/3 with some firms this morning and that is simply too big a price to miss.<br /><br />Regular readers of this column will be holding a nice ante-post voucher on Gan Amhras at 20/1 and I&rsquo;m certainly not deserting him at this stage. Jim Bolger&rsquo;s colt ran a cracker when third in the 2000 Guineas and I cannot see him out of the first three. He has stamina in abundance and showed in the Guineas that he&rsquo;s got plenty of speed to burn as well. Incidentally, if you are struggling to pronounce the name it&rsquo;s &lsquo;Gone-Our-Us&rsquo; which means &lsquo;without doubt&rsquo; in Gaelic.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s strange, if not mad, to have got this far through a preview for the Derby without having mentioned Aidan O&rsquo;Brien. The Ballydoyle maestro saddles six runners and four of them are in the top six in the betting. Yet, when O&rsquo;Brien arrives at Epsom mob-handed, I tend to think there isn&rsquo;t a superstar amongst them. Last year, he saddled a team of five who finished 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th and 15th respectively. In 2007, his team of eight finished 2nd, 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th 12th and 17th, while in 2006 his quartet finished 3rd, 8th, 12th and pulled-up. When he has won this race (2001 and 2002), it has been when he&rsquo;s aimed a couple at the race rather than a battalion. <br /><br />To make things even more confusing, Johnny Murtagh has chosen to ride Rip Van Winkle in preference to the stable&rsquo;s original number one hope Fame and Glory. It&rsquo;s been well documented that Murtagh has a soft spot for the &lsquo;Rip&rsquo;, but I just cannot see him being suited by Epsom&rsquo;s unique undulations and his stamina is far from assured. I wouldn&rsquo;t be surprised to see <strong>BLACK BEAR ISLAND</strong> emerge as Ballydoyle&rsquo;s best finisher and wouldn&rsquo;t put anyone off backing him at 9/2. He was pretty impressive at York last time in the Dante where he came from a mile back.<br /><br />Sporting Index are betting on how much of the &pound;1.25 million prize money will be won by the Aidan O&rsquo;Brien camp and the latest spread is pitched around the &pound;675,000 mark. The winner is set to pocket &pound;709,625, so sellers will make money as long as he doesn&rsquo;t win the race.<br /><br />While on the subject of Derby special bets, take some of the even money available about Sea The Stars being sent off favourite. I cannot see punters coming for Fame And Glory now Murtagh has rejected him and I&rsquo;m not sure how much shorter Rip Van Winkle can go. In my opinion, the only thing that can stop Sea The Stars being favourite is heavy rain. <br /><br />By the way, if Sea The Stars goes off favourite and wins, you could do a lot worse that send off &pound;25 to Brooke Hospital for Animals. It&rsquo;s a wonderful cause and there are some more details overleaf.<br /><br /><strong>DERBY POINTERS...</strong><br /><strong>SEA THE STARS</strong> to win the Derby (10/3)<br /><strong>SEA THE STARS</strong> to be sent off Derby favourite (EVENS)<br /><strong>BLACK BEAR ISLAND</strong> to be best of O&rsquo;Brien runners (9/2)