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Trevor Jones

Frankel Tops Epsom Derby Hopefuls List

125 hopefuls going forward following this week&amp;amp;#8217;s scratching stage.

Last season’s joint European champion 2-year-old Frankel heads 125 hopefuls going forward for the 2011 Investec Derby (Eng-I) following this week’s scratching stage.

There are just over three months until European flat racing’s most famous prize, worth  £1.25 million, is be contested at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 4.

Frankel is one of four entries representing trainer Henry Cecil, who has saddled four previous Derby winners, and could also be represented by Yarmouth maiden winner First Mohican and the unraced duo Flash Of Intuition and World Domination.

The Derby acquired its name at the toss of a coin between the 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury, ahead of the first running in 1780 which was won by Bunbury’s Diomed. In 2011 the 12th Earl’s descendant, the 19th Earl of Derby, could see his iconic black and white silks carried in the race by Voodoo Prince. A son of Kingmambo, Voodoo Prince is the first foal of the champion Ouija Board, who carried the Earl’s colours to victory in the 2004 Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) and went on to win a total of seven group I contests all over the world.

Ed Dunlop, the colt’s trainer, revealed: “Voodoo Prince has done well over the winter. He has strengthened up and I have been pleased with his progress so far. He had a little setback at a slightly critical time last year - it was nothing very serious but we decided to put him away.

“He obviously remains an unknown quantity but, having been entered in the Investec Derby last year, we thought that we would leave him in the race,” the trainer continued. “He is probably a couple of weeks away from doing fast work and we might look at the Wood Ditton Stakes at Newmarket or a similar race for his debut.”

Aidan O’Brien has his usual strong team entered and among his 21 engaged are group I winners Roderic O'Connor and Recital, and Seville, who finished second in last season’s Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I).

The Investec Derby is the only British classic that the Queen has not won in an ownership career spanning more than half a century and she looks to have a live contender this year in the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Carlton House, a nine-length maiden winner at Newbury in October. Stoute, successful in last year’s Investec Derby with Workforce, has won the race five times in total, the best record of any current trainer.

Among other well-known owners chasing flat racing’s most sought after prize are Lord Lloyd-Webber, represented by the dual winner Treasury Devil, and footballer Michael Owen, whose home-bred Brown Panther won his only start last year.

Godolphin’s 18 entries, split between trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood Al Zarooni, include Saamidd, winner of Doncaster’sgroup II Champagne Stakes, Kempton maiden winner Badeel, and Maywood, who scored in similar company at Brighton.

Along with O’Brien, other Irish-trained entries include a trio from trainer John Oxx, successful with the great Sea The Stars in the 2009 Investec Derby. Among them is the Aga Khan’s Gowran Park maiden winner Adilapour.

The nine French-trained entries include Maxios, an unbeaten half-brother to Arc hero Bago, trained by Jonathan Pease for the Niarchos family. Manhaj has won both his starts for trainer John Hammond while Alain de Royer Dupre has engaged the Aga Khan’s winning duo Dildar and Vadamar.

Those going forward in the race at the confirmation stage on Tuesday, March 1, were all entered as yearlings and there is an £8,000 second entry stage on April 5 with a final chance to be added to the field at a cost of £75,000 five days before the Classic on May 30.