The Andre Fabre-trained Visindar heads 33 horses going forward for the £1,250,000 Vodafone Derby, run at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 3, following Friday's forfeit stage.
Visindar cemented his position at the head of the ante-post market for the premier Classic with an authoritative four-length success in the Prix Greffulhe (Fr-II) at Longchamp on Monday, May 15. Owned by the Aga Khan, who is seeking a fifth Vodafone Derby success following Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986), Kahyasi (1988) and Sinndar (2000), Visindar is unbeaten in three starts and if successful on June 3 he will become the first French-trained victor since Empery in 1976. Fabre could also run Linda's Lad, a group I winner in France last season who prepared for Epsom Downs with victory in the totesport Derby Trial at Lingfield on May 13, when he beat Hazeymm by a head.Fabre may still be seeking his first success in the 12-furlong Vodafone Derby, but Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien can already count two victories in the Classic following Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002), and looks to have another strong hand this year. The pick of O'Brien's six remaining entries are Horatio Nelson, successful in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-I) at Longchamp last season and eighth behind stable companion George Washington in the Stan James Two Thousand Guineas on his seasonal reappearance; Dylan Thomas, who collected the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 13; impressive group II Totesport Dante Stakes winner Septimus; and French Two Thousand Guineas (Fr-I) victor Aussie Rules.Godolphin's two possibles are last season's group I Racing Post Trophy runner-up Winged Cupid and Jeu de Mot.
The principal British-trained contenders are headed by Sir Percy, victorious in the 2005 Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket and second to George Washington in the Stan James Two Thousand Guineas on his seasonal debut on May 6. Olympian Odyssey, third in the Newmarket Classic, is also set to head to Epsom Downs and is the sole surviving entry for Barry Hills, who has had four Vodafone Derby seconds.Classic-winning owner Bill Gredley believes Olympian Odyssey could represent his best ever chance of success in the Vodafone DerbyGredley is hopeful that the Sadler's Wells colt can give him his second Epsom Classic following the 1992 Vodafone Oaks (Eng-I) victory of User Friendly."Environment Friend won the Dante pulling away so he was the best chance I had previously of winning the Vodafone Derby," Gredley said. "He finished 11th in 1991 but something was amiss that day because he came out and won the Eclipse next time. Olympian Odyssey is a good horse. He's a tougher horse and more stoutly bred than Environment Friend who was a nice horse but not as manly as this horse, so in that respect Olympian Odyssey would be better than him. I do feel the horse is capable of winning a Derby - I just don't know which one yet. He's still in the French Derby so we haven't made a firm decision but if he runs in the Vodafone Derby it will be because he has a good chance."
Several of the main trial winners remain in the line up including Art Deco, successful in the Cheshire Regiment Dee Stakes, and Letheby & Christopher Predominate Stakes victor Championship Point.Other interesting contenders include Hala Bek, who created such a favorable impression when winning a maiden at Newbury on April 21 but has not been seen out since and trainer Michael Jarvis has admitted that he is racing against time to get the colt to Epsom Downs on June 3, while Listed Feilden Stakes victor Atlantic Waves could represent Mark Johnston.The next confirmation stage for the Vodafone Derby is at the five-day stage on May 29, when there is a final opportunity to enter the Classic at the £75,000 supplementary entry stage.