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Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Birmingham GP hoping to find right prescription for victory in Amateurs' Derby

Pretty Jewel with Dr Misha Voikhansky: bidding to win the Amateurs' Derby
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3.40 Epsom
China Southern Sanya Amateurs' Derby | Class 4 | 1m4f | 4yo+ | RUK

Birmingham GP Dr Misha Voikhansky, who competed in his first race only two years ago, will try to continue an unbeaten campaign when he experiences one of the pinnacle events of the amateur calendar on Monday in the Amateurs' Derby at Epsom.

The 52-year-old Voikhansky will be reunited with Pretty Jewel, the mare he owns and has ridden to two victories on two starts, his only rides during 2018 in a part-time career that consists of only 11 mounts to date.

The race, which has been won by many of the sport's greatest amateurs, has drawn former winners Simon Walker, who took the prize last year on C'Est No Mour, Jamie Codd and Ross Birkett.

As a child Voikhansky was subject of a diplomatic wrangle after his mother fled Russia and he was prevented from joining her in Britain for four years.

To his surprise, Voikhansky has won at Goodwood, Doncaster and Salisbury on the Ian Williams-trained Pretty Jewel since taking up the sport late after a depressed skull fracture in a fall suffered while riding out during his forties threatened to put paid to his ambitions.

John Berry with Roy Rocket at Brighton, the horse's second home
"When I bought Pretty Jewel I hoped to have a few spins in amateur races," he said. "I'd have liked to win one but to win three times on her and to be riding in the Amateurs' Derby is beyond all my dreams.

"She's very genuine and tough. She has the heart of a lion. For the likes of me to be riding against people like Jamie Codd is beyond belief. I'm thrilled to have got this far on her. Having said that, I'm not there for the day out, I want to win."

Codd, a multiple Cheltenham Festival-winning rider, landed the prize two years ago for John Quinn, and the trainer provides his latest mount Je Suis Charlie.

"I was pleased with the way he ran at Thirsk and he won over hurdles three runs ago," said Quinn. "With cut in the ground and a good rider, he has his chance."

C'Est No Mour has been gelded since he won last year and has disappointed trainer Peter Hedger since.

"He hasn't sparkled like we'd hoped, but his Windsor run would be good enough, although good to soft would be plenty soft enough," said Hedger.

Brighton specialist Roy Rocket has finished fifth in this two years running, but couldn't be in better form. "If they could have the race at Brighton he'd be favourite," said Emma Berry, wife of trainer John Berry. 

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For the likes of me to be riding against people like Jamie Codd is beyond belief really
E.W. Terms
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