Sir Percy Among 136 Vodafone Derby Hopefuls After First Forfeit Stage

Edited press release

The Vodafone Derby (Eng-I) at Epsom Downs June 3, promises plenty after 136 horses stood their ground at the initial forfeit stage--the first since the yearling entry in 2004.

There are 27 Irish-trained horses, three from France, and one from Germany remaining in the premier British Classic.

Darley Dewhurst Stakes winner Sir Percy, trained by Marcus Tregoning, heads the list of possible runners. The son of Mark Of Esteem ended last season unbeaten in four starts, and his narrow group I triumph over Horatio Nelson was enough to clinch the accolade of top-rated British-trained juveniles.

The latter, who won the group I Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere for owner Sue Magnier before suffering his only defeat at the hands of Sir Percy, is one of 19 Aidan O'Brien-trained horses still under consideration for the Blue Riband.

The Ballydoyle trainer, who won the Vodafone Derby with Galileo in 2001 and High Chaparral in 2002, has a strong hand that also includes group III Somerville Tattersall Stakes winner Aussie Rules, and Hurricane Cat, victorious in the group III Horris Hill Stakes.

Running third in the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I), Septimus previously took the group II Beresford Stakes, a race in which his stablemate, Altius, was third.

The O'Brien entries also include Dylan Thomas; Mountain; Galileo Galilei; Hitchcock; James Joyce; Newmarket maiden winner Fire and Rain; the unraced Brideshead, who is a half-brother to Colonel Collins who ran third in the Derby; Commander Collins; and Lit de Justice.

Godolphin has the largest representation, with trainer Saeed bin Suroor sending out 24 of the entries, most of which are unexposed individuals.

Haasem is an unraced half-brother to Godolphin champion, Sakhee, while Lunar Landscape is out of the Vodafone Oaks (Eng-I)-placed mare Melikah, who is a half-sister to Galileo and Black Sam Bellamy.

True Cause defeated Leo in a Goodwood Listed contest, but Leo turned the tables when True Cause ran fifth behind him in the group II Royal Lodge Stakes. Ashaawes won his maiden before running fourth to subsequent group I winner Palace Episode in the Listed Acomb Stakes at York.

Stepping Up was a close third to Aussie Rules in a group III Newmarket, while Jeu De Mot filled the same position behind Doctor Dash in a Listed contest at Salisbury in August.

Rampallion and Ruler's Gold, a half-brother to St Leger hero Rule Of Law, are other possible entries, along with Narvik, Achill Bay, Emirates Skyline, Extreme Measures, Shariki and Sharpsburg.

Sir Michael Stoute's Vodafone Derby haul stands at four wins and he will be looking to one of his seven remaining entries to provide win number five in the Classic.

City Of Troy won his first two starts before finishing fourth to Leo in the Royal Lodge Stakes, and is prominent in the betting for the Vodafone Derby. Best Alibi was fourth in the Racing Post Trophy last time, while Book Of Music showed a good attitude when winning his sole start in a Newmarket maiden.

Motivator provided Michael Bell with his first Vodafone Derby success last year and the trainer will be hoping that lightning can strike twice as his unraced pair, Leningrad and Moon Melody, are both sons of Montjeu, the sire of last season's winner.

Group III Sirenia Stakes hero Prince Of Light, and the unbeaten Nakheel, an easy winner of the Listed Silver Tankard Stakes at Pontefract in October, are at the top of Mark Johnston's four possible contenders.

Barry Hills, who has saddled four runners-up in the Vodafone Derby, has a seven-strong team, including Haydock maiden winner Giganticus, Mashaahed, and Olympian Odyssey, who defeated the David Elsworth-trained Degas Art in a Newmarket maiden. Elsworth, now based in Newmarket, could also race Persian Punch's half-brother, Classic Punch.

John Dunlop's three-strong entry includes Mount Kilimanjaro, a full brother to Kong, who also ran in last season's Derby.

The Irish challenge could include the Jim Bolger-trained Heliostatic. The Galileo colt was second by a length to Horatio Nelson in his debut, and then won a maiden contest in his only subsequent start, while stablemate Global Position was third to Mountain in his only outing.

The David Wachman-trained El Fuego, a winner at Fairyhouse in his sole start, could be joined by the John Oxx-trained King In Waiting, who is an unraced half-brother to Millenary. Kevin Prendergast has hope in Beresford Stakes (Ire-III) runner-up, Rekaab.

Foreign Entries
Minkowski is yet to race, but trainer John Hammond could send him to Epsom from his Chantilly base. Fellow French entries are Grieg, an unraced colt by Generous in the care of Eric Libaud and Gloucester, and trained by Pascal Bary.

The German possible is the Andreas Schutz-trained Listed winner, Nordic Thunder, who finished last season as runner-up in the group III Preis Des Winterfavoriten at Cologne.

Others that remain after the first forfeit stage include Atlantic Waves, Judge, Hazeymm, Night Crescendo, Charlie Cool, Primary, and Dunelight.

There are two further opportunities for horses to be added to the Vodafone Derby field: April 5 for £8,000 and May 29 for £75,000. The second forfeit stage is May 17.