Edited Epsom Downs release
A total of 465 horses have been entered at the yearling stage for the 2008 Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I), according to the early nominations released Wednesday, Dec. 13.The 2008 Derby, which takes place at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 7, 2008, will have a guaranteed prize fund of £1.25 million, with £710,000 for the winner, confirming the great race's status as Europe's richest race.Sheikh Mohammed's powerful Godolphin team has 44 engaged, the same number as his brother Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, making them the two owners with the most entries at this stage.Godolphin landed the 1995 Derby with Lammtarra, while Sheikh Hamdan has enjoyed success in England's classic with Nashwan in 1989 and Erhaab five years later.Included among the Godolphin contingent is the $11.7 million colt by Kingmambo out of Crown of Crimson, who became the second highest-priced yearling ever sold at public auction when passing through America's Keeneland sale ring in September.Also among the Godolphin entries is the $9.2 million colt from Danzig's final crop out of Sharp Deputy, purchased at the same sale along with the $5.7 million yearling by Mr. Greeley out of Silvester Lady. The Dubai operation has also entered the Pivotal colt out of Bordighera, a half-brother to George Washington and Grandera, who was the top-priced yearling at the 2006 Tattersalls' October Sale when sold for 1.2 million guineas.Coolmore, the other great European powerhouse, was triumphant in the 2001 Derby with Galileo and followed up in 2002 with High Chaparral. Sue Magnier, wife of Coolmore Stud's John Magnier, has 30 horse entered, plus one in partnership with Fittocks Stud, while Coolmore associates Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith have 15 and nine entries respectively, making a total of 55.The Coolmore contingent includes a Hawk Wing colt out of 1996 Vodafone Oaks heroine Lady Carla, as well as a half-brother to the former, who was runner-up in the 2002 Derby.A three-parts brother to 2006 Vodafone Oaks heroine Alexandrova, by Montjeu out of Shouk, could carry Tabor's colors to victory for a second time following High Chaparral.The most successful current owner in the Derby is the Aga Khan, who has seen his silks victorious on Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986), Kahyasi (1988) and Sinndar (2000). He has 36 entered, 14 more than at this stage last year, spread among trainers John Oxx, Andre Fabre, Jean-Claude Rouget, Alain de Royer-Dupre and Michael Halford.Whitehall could be buzzing come Derby day 2008, as Ian Cameron, father of Conservative Party leader David Cameron, has entered his colt Mountain Pride, trained by John Dunlop who knows about saddling the winner, having done so with Shirley Heights (1978) and Erhaab (1994).Manchester United fans will be interested to monitor the progress of the Jeremy Noseda-trained colt by King's Best out of Atlantic Desire. The youngster is owned by the manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was a part-owner of 2004 Vodafone Derby 10th Gatwick.The world of football is also represented by well-known soccer agent Willie McKay who has six entries trained by rookie handler Tim Pitt. The Bawtry trainer secured a brace of Group One victories in his first full season this year when McKay's leading sprinter Les Arcs took the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.The last Royal winner of the Derby came in 1909 when Minoru triumphed for King Edward VII and the Queen has two to select from for 2008, with Drum Major and Kingdom Of Fife both in the care of Sir Michael Stoute.Motivator became the first Derby winner to be owned by a syndicate when he was victorious in 2005 for the Royal Ascot Racing Club. Members of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing syndicates will be hoping that one of their 11 horses entered at this stage can emulate that feat.International interest comes in the form of entries from Ireland, France and Germany, as well as the nine-strong contingent from Japanese owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto.Yamamoto's entries include a colt by Red Ransom out of 2000 Oaks winner Love Divine, dam of 2006 Derby seventh and St. Leger winner Sixties Icon.Sixties Icon's owner Susan Roy, wife of new British Horseracing Authority chairman Paul Roy, has entered two Galileo colts. One is a full-brother to 2006 St Leger runner-up The Last Drop out of Epping, and the other is a son of smart US performer Comstock Queen. Both are in training with Jeremy Noseda.With regard to trainers, Aidan O'Brien dominates with 46 entries at this stage, while the two most successful current trainers in the Derby, Sir Michael Stoute and Henry Cecil, who have each saddled four winners, have 20 and two entries respectively.Jim Bolger, trainer of 2006 champion 2-year-old and current favorite for the 2007 Derby, Teofilo, has entered a full brother to that colt (Galileo - Speirbhean).Marcus Tregoning prepared Sir Percy to win the 2006 Derby and the trainer has four entries in his care. Epsom trainer Terry Mills has a longstanding ambition to win the Derby from his local base and a colt by Act One out of Bint Shihama and a Daylami colt out of Silent Crystal are his two entries.North Yorkshire trainer Alan Swinbank, fresh from saddling Collier Hill to famous group I triumphs in the Pattison Canadian International and Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase, is now eyeing the world's premier Classic and has entered a colt by 2003 Derby hero Kris Kin out of Lady Of Shalott, plus a Theatrical colt out of My Hansel.There are two further entry opportunities for the 2008 Derby -- the second stage costing £8,000 on April 9, 2008, and the supplementary stage at £75,000 on June 2, 2008.