Kite Wood carries Godolphin's hopes in tomorrow's Epsom Derby although the Dubai racing operation admit he must improve from his last outing if he is to score a maiden Derby win for them. Bred from grandsire, Sadler's Wells and sire Galileo, both Derby winners, accepted wisdom dictates that the right genes are coursing through the Godolphin colt's veins for the mile-and-a-half challenge of Epsom's undulating track. Unfortunately that is no guarantee of success in this Classic.
Kite Wood is not the only Derby runner related to Sadlers Wells in the race - not by a long shot. No fewer than 10 of the likely field of 13 were sired by a son of Sadler's Wells or by the great horse himself. Aidan O'Brien saddles six strong contenders and the 2,000 Guineas winner Sea the Stars also goes for a historic double not achieved by any horse since Nijinsky did it in 1970. In such prestigious company, Kite Wood must show significant improvement if he is to get to the starting gate in winning form.
Purchased by Godolphin out of Michael Jarvis's stable last season, Kite Wood won the Group Three Deloitte Autumn Stakes at Ascot as a two-year-old, and was considered a good proposition for the Derby before his fifth-place finish at the Dante Stakes in York earlier this month. Yet in a race won by O'Brien's Black Bear Island, Kite Wood did not put in a disastrous display, finishing just two lengths behind the winner.
And Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said the colt needed the York run and had since improved during training at Newmarket. "We were pleased with his last run and he has come on from that as he was slightly undercooked that day," he said. "He will stay further and is ready to take his chance." He will be ridden by the irrepressible Frankie Dettori while Rip van Winkle, fourth in the 2,000 Guineas, benefits from having the jockey to three of the last nine Derby winners - Johnny Murtagh - in the irons. The champion jockey Ryan Moore takes the ride on Black Bear Island.
In the Epsom Oaks today, the John Gosden-trained Rainbow View, drawn in the widest gate 10, must improve her fifth in the 1,000 Guineas as she takes on Michael Bell's Sariska, who likes softer ground, in gate five. Sir Michael Stoute will be hoping his filly, Phillipina, can end his 22-year Oaks drought, while Midday, trained by Henry Cecil could capture her handler a ninth win. Meanwhile Godolphin's Eastern Anthem takes on Youmzain in today's Coronation Cup - his first test since winning the US$5million (Dh18m) Dubai Sheema Classic in March.