The Racing Post preview this year's Investec Derby Festival

The Derby. To win it, as an owner, trainer, jockey or horse, is to be assured of an indelible place in racing history, to join the pantheon of sporting greats. For many, it represents the beating heart of Flat racing - it cannot exist alone, but is the epicentre around which each glorious season revolves.

It is also the race the Coolmore triumvirate of Messrs Magnier, Tabor and Smith cherish above all else, and Team Ballydoyle has once again left no stone unturned in their bid to land the Investec-sponsored Classic on Saturday, June 2nd.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien fields a strong team including the favourite Saxon Warrior, who comes into the race fresh from victory in the 2,000 Guineas. If successful on Saturday he could go for the Triple Crown, with the St Leger at Doncaster in September the third leg in a feat that has not been completed since Nijinsky in 1970.

However, he must first defeat the Epsom field, in which Leopardstown Derby Trial winner Hazapour, Chester Vase scorer Young Rascal and 2,000 Guineas third Masar are among those set to be in opposition.

Twenty-four hours earlier the fillies take centre stage in the Investec Oaks. Coolmore's racing rivals Godolphin could have the upper hand with favourite Wild Illusion, winner of the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac last season for Charlie Appleby. O'Brien's main hope Magical was ruled out on Wednesday, but he still fields five of the nine declared runners.

Outside of the Classic action racegoers can look forward to the Group 1 Coronation Cup on Friday and the return of Cracksman, who makes his seasonal debut in Britain following a stunning victory in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp, while Saturday brings the famous Epsom Dash, in which Caspian Prince will bid for a fourth win for a fourth trainer, Michael Appleby bidding to follow in the footsteps of Andy Carroll, Dean Ivory and Tony Coyle.

Two of the finest days the turf season has to offer - promptly followed by five more as Royal Ascot appears on the horizon.

by The Racing Post's Katherine Fidler at Rewards4Racing

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