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Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 17:35 UK

Balding's six to watch

Clare Balding
By Clare Balding
BBC horse racing presenter

It has been a funny start to the Flat racing season.

The Epsom Derby
One of the highlights of the flat racing season is the Epsom Derby

To be honest it needs to hot up as everything's a little unsure at the moment.

Horses you expect to win are getting beaten and horses you have never heard of are winning.

There will be a superstar that emerges but it's a question of who that will be.

Here I've chosen six protagonists who I feel will be major players over the course of the season.

WILLIAM BUICK - JOCKEY

I think William will be the champion apprentice this year. He has just ridden out his claim and he is a really good young jockey.

He is based at my brother's (Andrew Balding) yard so I know him very well and in fact I've known him since the age he still looks. He is 19 but looks about 12.

William Buick
William Buick youthful looks belie a serious talent

Despite his youthful appearance he is very cool, he's got great timing, good balance and a great racing brain.

He is very light so doesn't have to worry about his weight at all. In fact, when he first turned up he was only about six stone and my dad said, 'you are going to have to put some weight on,' which is pretty rare for a jockey.

My dad, who doesn't bet, backed him to be champion jockey by 2020 at 500-1, which is a pretty good wager.

TED DURCAN - JOCKEY

I think Ted is one of the best jockeys out there and could have a great season as he is going to be riding all of Henry Cecil good horses.

He has been champion jockey in Dubai seven times and rode the Oaks winner for Henry last year on Light Shift.

He will be on Derby favourite Twice Over who is going to win some big races despite his defeat to Tartan Bearer in the Dante Stakes at York in May.

PHOENIX TOWER - HORSE

Trained by Henry Cecil, he was unbeaten in four races until finishing second at the Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday 17 May.

He previously won at Newmarket in April and is set for Group One races at Royal Ascot. His attitude is very good and Ted Durcan says he works very well.

We don't know whether he will go on to be world class, but from the entries he has got it looks like he will be. He is what we call in racing, unexposed, he is four years but he has only had five races in his life and could go on to be very, very good.

JIM BOLGER - TRAINER

Irish trainer Bolger would hold the key to both the Oaks and the Derby if he chose to run his horses over here.

If New Approach was entered for the Derby he would be very well fancied and would be favourite as would the filly Lush Lashes in the Oaks, who recently claimed the Musidora Stakes at York. But it looks like he is not going to bring his best horses to Epsom which is a great shame as he wants to win the Irish Guineas.

Trainer Jim Bolger
Jim Bolger could hold the key to the Oaks and Derby winners

He doesn't have an enormous yard, yet he has got all the big guns in it and I suspect he is going to have an incredible record in the big races.

Last year, he trained the filly Finsceal Beo (which means 'living legend' in Irish) within a whisker of an unprecedented treble of the English, Irish and French 1000 Guineas, but came second in Longchamp.

RYAN MOORE - JOCKEY

The champion jockey of 2006 had a really bad injury last year which stopped him retaining his title. Despite being out of action for months he still managed 128 winners over the calendar year of 2007.

The 24-year-old has had most of his winners from Sir Michael Stoute's yard but he's a jockey in demand and is used by everyone.

He is an extremely good jockey and will probably run Tartan Bearer who could have a very good chance in the Derby.

RIO DE LA PLATA - HORSE

This Godolphin horse has run once this year and finished second in the French 2000 Guineas. He won three races last year and I like his attitude and think he will stay beyond a mile.

Frankie Dettori likes him and Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Stable are due a good horse.

He is currently 25-1 for the Derby and I'd have a little flutter on that.

If he doesn't stay the Derby trip then a race like the Eclipse at Sandown might suit him.

CLARE'S PREDICTIONS

Champion Trainer - Sir Michael Stoute

Champion Jockey - Ryan Moore

Champion Apprentice - William Buick


Clare Balding was talking to Paul Birch




see also
Dettori guides Creachadoir to win
17 May 08 |  Horse Racing
Twice Over suffers Dante defeat
15 May 08 |  Horse Racing
Zarkava storms to Guineas victory
11 May 08 |  Horse Racing
Lush Lashes wins Musidora Stakes
13 May 08 |  Horse Racing
New Approach straight to Guineas
06 Mar 08 |  Horse Racing
Light Shift takes famous Oaks win
01 Jun 07 |  Horse Racing
Finsceal clinches Guineas double
27 May 07 |  Horse Racing
Champion Teofilo forced to retire
02 Aug 07 |  Horse Racing
Windsor success for Group Captain
04 Nov 06 |  Horse Racing
Cornelius Lysaght column
25 Jul 06 |  Horse Racing
Horse racing on the BBC
14 Mar 08 |  Horse Racing
Quiz the racing team
29 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing


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