Jockey Jason Watson has described making his Cazoo Derby debut as part of the official Platinum Jubilee celebrations as “a big deal” as he prepares to ride the Andrew Balding-trained Masekela.
The 22 year old has ridden on Derby Day before but never in the big race itself and will join four weighing room colleagues - Jason Hart (Royal Patronage), Rob Hornby (Westover) and Danny Tudhope (Grand Alliance) – in receiving his ‘Derby Cap’ tomorrow to mark his first appearance in the Classic.
And Watson admits that the race coinciding with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the recent passing of nine times winner of the race, Lester Piggott will add even more emotion to the occasion.
He said: “I’ve ridden in both the 2000 and 1000 Guineas and that was a big experience.
“On such an important weekend with this being the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and with the passing of Lester Piggott, who the race is being run in memory of, to be supporting and riding in The Derby this year is a big deal.
“The owners Mick and Janice Mariscotti have been good to me, while Andrew (Balding) has always been a great supporter of mine.”
After finishing second in the Listed bet365 Feilden Stakes at Newmarket on his return, Masekela was withdrawn on what was supposed to be his latest start in the Group Two Dante at York following an incident at the stalls.
Despite Watson holding slight reservations over his ability to see out the mile and a half trip he is optimistic that his additional experience could play to his strengths over less exposed rivals.
He explained: “There are a lot of question marks surrounding him with the main one being ‘does he stay?’, as a mile and a quarter looked to be what he wanted in the Feilden.
“The Dante was meant to be next but he flared up in the stalls so we didn’t have another opportunity to see what he was about.
“They have been very happy with his homework and he is going into it as well as he could be without a prep run.
“I’d like to think having the experience he does is a positive going into a race like this as he has been up against some quality horses like Native Trail, so he hasn’t got bad form.
“He is a nice big horse that is very well balanced so the track shouldn’t be an issue we just hope the ground doesn’t go too soft.”