Artistic Star connections excited by Derby prospects

Artistic Star winning the Darley British EBF Novice Stakes at Sandown Park last month. The colt is a lively outsider for today's Betfred Derby at Epsom
By Adam Morgan

NOBODY knows how good the unbeaten Artistic Star could be, but connections are excited to find out when he takes his place in the Betfred Derby at Epsom.

Owned by long-time supporter of racing Jeff Smith, he created a taking impression at Nottingham in his sole appearance at two and confirmed the promise of that performance when upped to 10 furlongs for his three-year-old bow at Sandown.

He readily got the better of useful opposition on both occasions and although available at odds as big as 40-1, the Ralph Beckett-trained colt will head to the premier Classic attempting to go two places better than Kimpton Downs stablemate Westover who made the Derby podium last year.

"He is an exciting colt and has done nothing wrong so far," said Smith's racing manager, David Bowe.

"His Nottingham win was very good, he came on for that and he ran very well at Sandown.

"We're very happy with him, Ralph is happy with him, he's unbeaten and why not! He's got the profile of a Derby horse and the pedigree. The trip won't be a problem for him and he's a nice light-framed horse, so we don't see Epsom being an issue.

"Equally it's unknown territory, but it's not often you have a horse with a Derby profile, so why not? Jeff is in the game for racing horses and there is no point keeping them at home."

Artistic Star is by the mighty Galileo, who as well as thriving around the undulations of the Surrey Downs when landing the Derby himself in 2001, has gone on to prove he is the king of Epsom in the stallion ranks by siring five Derby winners.

Artistic Star is Galileo's sole progeny in the Derby line-up this time around and although it is still to be discovered if he can follow in the footsteps of his illustrious father, there is little doubt he is is bristling with untapped potential.

"This horse has got a very nice back pedigree and is a good-looking individual," continued Bowe.

"He has done nothing wrong so far, he's unbeaten, so we don't know how good he is. Whether the Derby will be his defining moment we don't know, but I'm sure we will have a very nice colt on our hands whatever happens come Saturday."

Although Smith's colours have been carried to success in many big races over the years by the likes of Chief Singer, Lochsong, Persian Punch and most recently Alcohol Free, so far a British Classic has eluded him.

Now Artistic Star will attempt to correct that record and will be Smith's fourth runner in the Derby - 20 years on from Norse Dancer being the Littleton Stud owner's first representative in the race when finishing fourth to Kris Kin.

"I think having a runner in the Derby in the first place is exciting in itself and we are going to find an awful lot out Saturday," added Bowe.

"Whether Saturday is his day or not, nobody knows. We would love to see him run well and come home safe and whatever happens on Saturday, I think he'll have a bright future.

"Again it's such a fantastic race and for Jeff is to have a runner in it is what we do it for. Jeff is in the game as a purist and you can't get more pure than the Derby."