Edited Epsom Downs releaseA 639-strong entry has been received for the 2006 Vodafone Derby at the initial yearling entry stage, just nine short of the record 648 entries made for the 2005 classic at Epsom Downs.The next highest total, since yearling entries were restarted for the Vodafone Derby in 1993, was 634 in that initial year.The 2006 Vodafone Derby, slated for June 3 will have a guaranteed prize fund of £1.25 million, with £725,000 for the winner, making it the richest race in Europe.The level of Vodafone Derby entries is on an upward curve, with an average of 618 yearlings for 2004 to 2006, which is a 10.4% increase on the 560 average for the previous three years. The average has increased from1997-99, when the average number was 548.There are 213 owners with yearlings in the premier classic - a new record in the modern era. There were 199 different owners at the yearling entry stage for this year's Vodafone Derby and 175 for the 2004 Vodafone Derby.Godolphin, responsible for the 1995 Vodafone Derby winner Lammtarra, has the highest number of entries - 75 (67 for 2005) while its founder and driving force Sheikh Mohammed is directly responsible for 39 entries (73 for 2005). His son, Sheikh Rashid, has seven involved, trained by Gerard Butler and Michael Bell, while Princess Haya of Jordan, Sheikh Mohammed's wife, is represented by eight yearlings, all with John Gosden. Godolphin's entries include a $3.1 million Kingmambo colt bought at Keeneland and the 700,000 euros Grand Lodge colt that topped Deauville's August Sale.
Other members of the Maktoum family of Dubai are well to the fore again. Hamdan Al Maktoum, successful in 1989 with Nashwan and in 1994 with Erhaab, has 41 entered (37 for 2005), Maktoum Al Maktoum has nominated 29 (32 for 2005) and Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum has 10 entries while Sheikh Obaid Al Maktoum, successful in 1998 with High-Rise, is involved again with two entries. Sheikh Marwan Al Maktoum and Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum each have one.The Aga Khan, who has won the world's greatest Flat race more times than any other current owner with four victories (Shergar 1981, Shahrastani1986, Kahyasi 1988 and Sinndar 2000), has 22 entries (27 for 2005) while Dubai-based Saeed Suhail, successful in 2003 with Kris Kin, is responsible for five entries (11 for 2005), including a 700,000 guineas Galileo colt out of Balisada.Sue Magnier, no stranger to Vodafone Derby success with Galileo carrying her colors to victory in 2001, bids for 2006 with 18 entries (32 for 2005) – all but one with Aidan O'Brien. Michael Tabor, who has raced many of his horses in partnership with Sue Magnier, including the 2002 Vodafone Derby winner High Chaparral, has 12 entered (27 for 2005), of whom nine are with O'Brien. David Elsworth, Michael Jarvis, and Michael Bell- training for the owner for the first time, have one each. Tabor's entries include a $1.9 million yearling from the first crop of Galileo. O'Brien's wife Anne Marie has 12 entered in her name, including a 700,000 guineas Sadler's Wells colt purchase from Tattersalls Sales.Khalid Abdulla, who won the Vodafone Derby in 1990 with Quest For Fame and three years later with Commander In Chief, has 25 entries for the 2006 renewal while last year's winning owner of North Light, Ballymacoll Stud, which represents the late Lord Weinstock's bloodstock and racing interests, goes forward with seven yearlings. The Sangster family has five, with the late Robert Sangster's colors having been carried to victory in 1977with The Minstrel and in 1982 with Golden Fleece. The Queen has two entries (six for 2005) - both trained by
Sir Michael Stoute, while local Epsom hopes for success lie with trainer
Terry Mills' one entry, which is owned by Tina Smith.The Niarchos Family is responsible for 13 entries while Highclere
Thoroughbred Racing and George Strawbridge, both have 10 engaged. Lord Derby, successful in the 2004 Vodafone Oaks with Ouija Board, has one entry called Chess Board, out of a half-sister to the great filly, who is with Newmarket trainer Sir Mark Prescott.There is considerable overseas interest, not least from France with trainers Andre Fabre and Alain de Royer Dupre having six and eight yearlings respectively for the 2006 Vodafone Derby, while Pascal Bary has five. There is also German representation from Andreas Schutz (two), two yearlings from Denmark, one trained by Flemming Poulsen and the other by Soren Jensen and plenty of Irish entries.At this stage, 209 of the yearlings have not been officially allocated a trainer and, of those who have, Sir Michael Stoute is in charge of the most, 43. These include a 750,000 guineas Danehill colt and a 555,000
Euros son of Galileo, both owned by the Celle Syndicate,which has made five entries. Walter Swinburn, successful as a jockey in the Derby on Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986) and Lammtarra (1995), has made his first entries as a trainer, putting up four yearlings for 2006.
Stephen Wallis, the Epsom Downs Racecourse Managing Director, commented: "The Vodafone Derby is attracting more and more owners which is a very healthy situation for the premier classic."We are grateful for the continued and growing support and hope they thoroughly enjoy living the dream of Derby success."A full list of the entries for the 2006 Vodafone Derby is available from