Ed Dunlop has a Derby dream for John Leeper after the foal lands the Betway Fairway Stakes in Newmarket

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Ed Dunlop could win Derby in his late father’s name if John Leeper wins the Betway Fairway Stakes at Newmarket

  • Owner-breeder Cristina Patino named the foal after Ed’s trainer father
  • John Leeper only drove way too fast at his third start from a slow, early pace
  • But he still sent Tasman Bay away, a runner who could also be Derby-bound

John Leeper posted an emotional challenge to his trainer Ed Dunlop in next month’s Derby when he overcame his inexperience to win the Betway Fairways Stakes at Newmarket.

The winner ridden by William Buick has a special pedigree – his sire is wonder horse Frankel, while his dam Snow Fairy won six Group 1 races for Dunlop, including the 2010 Oaks and Irish Oaks.

But more importantly for Dunlop, owner-breeder Cristina Patino has given her foal the first name of Ed’s trainer sire who won the Derby twice with Shirley Heights (1978) and Erhaab (1994).

John Leeper posted an emotional challenge for his trainer Ed Dunlop (center) in next month’s Derby

On Saturday, not until his third start, the foal that opened his winning account last month on the weatherproof track of Newcastle pulled away from a slow early pace far too fast.

But he still sent Tasman Bay, a runner that could also be Derby-bound, with a length and three-quarters, shaping as if the extra two stadia in the Derby were going to be tailor-made.

Dunlop said, ‘It’s named after my dad, so that’s about as much pressure as you can get! William said it was a farce of a race because they trotted however long. He was a bit enthusiastic and inexperienced, but he can only get better with more racing. I’m sure the owner wants to go to Epsom. She’s had a dream to do it and as long as he’s okay that’s what we’ll do.

“He’ll have to step forward again, but he deserves to go to Epsom. Hopefully this is just the beginning. ‘

With Buick in line to ride Charlie Appleby-trained Dante Stakes winner Hurricane Lane at the Derby on June 5, the mountain on John Leeper is up for grabs.

Hollie Doyle was on board when he won at Newcastle, while Frankie Dettori, aboard Snow Fairy when she won the 2012 Irish Champion Stakes, is also likely to be shortlisted.

John Leeper (not pictured) overcame inexperience to win Betway Fairway Stakes at Newmarket

John Leeper (not pictured) overcame inexperience to win Betway Fairway Stakes at Newmarket

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