Ryan Moore to partner Pletcher ace Marconi in Kentucky Derby trial on Saturday

Ryan Moore: Hong Kong hero
Ryan Moore: odds-on to ride in the Kentucky DerbyCredit: Edward Whitaker

Ryan Moore, who could miss the Qipco 2,000 Guineas next month to ride Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, will get the opportunity for some US match practice on Saturday when he partners Marconi in a trial for the most prestigious race Stateside.

Moore, who has outlined his desire to land the Kentucky Derby on more than one occasion, is now 1-3 (from 4-6) with Paddy Power to be at Churchill Downs rather than Newmarket on May 5, with Betway quoting 4-7. Paddy Power make Moore 2-1 to be at Newmarket, with Betway going 6-5.

The man perceived by many to be the world's best jockey will partner Marconi in Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, a colt whose owners include Coolmore partners John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.

"We're planning for Ryan to come over and ride," explained Marconi's trainer Todd Pletcher. "I spoke to him last week and we were looking for a rider as it's a difficult day for jockeys in the US with big races in New York, Kentucky and California.

"I spoke to some of the [Coolmore] guys when they were over for the sales and asked if they thought it would be a good idea if Ryan came over, and whether he'd be willing to do it.

"They touched base with him and he was, so we decided it would be great to have him over here and give the horse his best chance.

"I spoke to him before Mendelssohn ran in Dubai last weekend and the plan was for him to come and ride, but I'm sure he won't mind the added experience."

Todd Pletcher: trainer has never used Ryan Moore before
Todd Pletcher: trainer has never used Ryan Moore beforeCredit: Rob Carr
Pletcher, speaking to the Racing Post and "very impressed" with the Aidan O'Brien-trained Mendelssohn's Meydan victory in the UAE Derby, which he won by 18 and a half lengths to secure favouritism for the Kentucky Derby, will be using Moore for the first time.

"I think everyone would agree he's certainly one of the best riders in the world with international success and we're happy to have him on board," he continued.

"I'm going to be in New York, so I'll talk to Ryan and we'll discuss strategy, but when I spoke to him last week he was familiar with the horse and had watched his races, so he's well prepared."

Pletcher is seeking his fourth success in the Blue Grass, a Grade 2 that last produced a Kentucky Derby winner in Strike The Gold in 1991, although Keeneland recently had a brief flirtation with an artificial surface which may not have assisted those stats.

Successful twice in the first leg of the US Triple Crown, including with Always Dreaming 12 months ago, Pletcher again boasts a formidable squad, headed by Saturday's Florida Derby winner Audible, who can be backed at a general 7-1 with British and Irish bookmakers.

Moore's mount Marconi is 50-1 with bet365 for the Kentucky Derby, but is well regarded by the trainer, who said: "He's a very nice colt. He's by Tapit and is a half-brother to a Breeders' Cup Classic winner in Mucho Macho Man. He's a colt who's still putting it all together.

"We feel he's improving. He's not real quick away from the gate, but has got loads of stamina and we feel if the race on Saturday unfolds properly with an honest pace up front that will help his chances."

Running through his Classic contenders, Pletcher added: "We really don't rank them and we're fortunate to have three colts who have won preps in successive weeks, with Magnum Moon in the Rebel, Noble Indy in the Louisiana Derby and Audible in the Florida Derby. We also have Vino Rosso running in the Wood Memorial on Saturday.

"We're in a fortunate position to have some horses who seem to be developing the right way, but we're still five weeks out from the Derby and there's still plenty of preparation to be done."

While Moore is used to riding against the world's best on the biggest stages, there will be a couple of very familiar faces in the Keeneland jockeys' room on Saturday as Adam Beschizza and Fergal Lynch are also in action.

Moore has also been booked to ride Frisky Magician for Jorge Abreu in the Grade 2 Shakertown.

As for whether he should return to Kentucky next month, Frankie Dettori and Richard Hughes are both in the 'yes' camp.

Dettori said: "I'd go to America - with what we saw in Dubai Mendelssohn has a great chance. Ask anyone if you could win the Kentucky Derby, you'd say yes, it's once in a lifetime."

Hughes added: "I'd ride in the Kentucky Derby no doubt. To have the chance to win the race would be huge on the CV."

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James BurnLambourn correspondent

Published on 4 April 2018inNews

Last updated 16:15, 4 April 2018