Fresh from cheering on his beloved Nottingham Forest to promotion in the Championship play-off final, Charlie Fellowes is hoping for another successful weekend when he saddles his first ever runner in the Cazoo Derby in Grand Alliance.
The three-year-old is owned by Paul and Susan Roy, whose colours have been worn in the Classic in the past by the Jeremy Noseda-trained St Leger winner Sixties Icon and for whom Epsom holds a special place in their heart, with Paul born in Epsom.
Fellowes believes it will be a special occasion not only for himself, but also the owners and said: “It’s really exciting to be part of it.
“It’s a completely new experience and we are going into it with a horse who has a few questions to answer. So we’re not going in there with an awful lot of pressure on our shoulders, which I suppose is a nice thing, and if he goes and runs a really nice race we would be over the moon.
“Paul Roy, who owns Grand Alliance with his wife Sue, was born and raised in Epsom. Paul was the son of a butcher in Epsom and was brought up at Tattenham Corner. His parents are buried just round the corner from the track and although he doesn’t live there any longer, he’s a regular visitor to Epsom, so for him it’s particularly poignant to have a runner in the Derby.”
Grand Alliance is one of the outsiders of the 18 potential runners still left in contention for the premier Classic – which will be run in memory of Lester Piggott – and can be backed at odds of 100-1, but the son of Churchill has already ticked one major Derby box by proving he handles the track when finishing second in the Blue Riband Trial.
“He was beaten a neck by Nahanni and had United Nations behind him, Nahanni is around the 16-1 to 20-1 mark, while we are out at 66-1,” continued Fellowes.
“Now, he’s trained by Charlie Appleby which is probably a very big reason why he is over half the price mine is, but he’s very very solid, he runs his race every time and has improved with every run this year. He only ever does as much as he has to, so I don’t really know what I’ve got left.
“There is a big question mark about his stamina. On pedigree he shouldn’t be staying a mile and a half at all, but every single time he has run over a mile and a quarter he has looked, if anything, that he would improve for a step up in trip.
“At Doncaster and Epsom, both times he looked a little bit outpaced in the early parts of the race and then was strong as he could be at the finish and James (Doyle) said after the Derby trial he took an age to pull up and definitely didn’t feel like he was stopping.
“He has to improve, we are very aware of that, he needs to step up as it’s a proper race on Saturday. But we couldn’t have had a better preparation, he’s trained brilliantly for the six weeks since his last run and I know I couldn’t have him going there any better. Whether that is good enough or not, we’ll find out Saturday.”
Fellowes sounded hoarse when discussing his stable stars following his Sunday afternoon at Wembley, a day out that will live long in the memory of the long-suffering Forest supporter.
He said: “I was lucky enough to be at Wembley and although I was sober coming home, my voice has taken a real hammering! It was the most unbelievable day, very special. I’ve supported Nottingham Forest for a very long time and I’ve seen a lot of lows, so to be there and see us go up to the Premier League was incredible.”