At a press morning at her own Commonstown Stud base, Jessica Harrington didn’t hesitate when asked if there is one major race she’d like to win.

“Oh, the Derby,” she asserted. “I’d love to win the Derby. But it’s the hardest race to win because of Aidan (O’Brien). I’ve had very few runners in it but I’d love to win it.”

It was the first time Harrington spoke openly to journalists after revealing she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer in February. She admitted that morning that she didn’t know how she’d got through it all, not least given she was due for her 16th bout of chemotherapy the following week.

But anyone who knows Harrington remotely well won’t have been surprised that not only has she got through it but she has managed to oversee one of her fastest starts to a flat season ever.

And among that flurry of winners, she has found that elusive Derby contender, Sprewell, who is a 10/1 shot at Epsom this Saturday. The son of Churchill won a relatively modest contest on the first start of the season at Naas but he stepped up significantly on that when running out an impressive winner of the Derby Trial at Leopardstown just under a month ago.

Proper horse

Speaking after that win, Harrington’s daughter and assistant trainer Kate said: “I think he’s a proper, proper horse, as good as we’ve ever had. He has every chance of getting a mile and a half, and he is just very exciting.”

Harrington has already won two Champion Chases, a Champion Hurdle, a Gold Cup, an Irish Grand National, an Irish 1000 Guineas, an Irish Oaks, plus multiple wins at Royal Ascot, Punchestown and Aintree. It would simply be an amazing feat to win a Derby at the age of 76, and especially after everything she has been through this season.

Sprewell has a puncher’s chance in a wide open renewal. Bookmakers go 3/1 the field, with Charlie Appleby’s Military Order at the top of the betting. Aidan O’Brien initially had the short priced favourite for the race in Auguste Rodin, but he is a 6/1 shot now after his Guineas flop.

Further Irish interest is provided by White Birch, the Ballysax winner and close runner-up in the Dante Stakes, often the strongest trial for the Derby.