Record Number of Early Entries For 2005 Vodafone Derby

A record 648 yearlings were entered for the 2005 Vodafone Derby (Eng-I) at the initial yearling entry stage on Dec. 3, 2003--80 more than 12 months ago.

The previous record since yearling entries were restarted for Britain's premier classic in 1993 was 634 in that first year.

The 2005 Vodafone Derby, to be run Saturday, June 4, 2005 at Epsom Downs, will have a guaranteed prize fund of £1.25 million and is the richest race in Europe.

Members of the Maktoum family dominate the list with the highest number of entries. Godolphin, responsible for the 1995 Vodafone Derby winner Lammtarra, accounts for 67 of those engaged, Sheikh Mohammed has 73 entries, Hamdan Al Maktoum, successful in 1989 with Nashwan and in 1994 with Erhaab, has 37 entered, Maktoum Al Maktoum has nominated a further 32 with both Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum and Sheikh Obaid Al Maktoum, successful in 1998 with High-Rise, having one entry each.

The Aga Khan, who has won the race more times than any other current owner with four victories (Shergar 1981, Shahrastani 1986, Kahyasi 1988 and Sinndar 2000), has 27 entries while Dubai-based Saeed Suhail, successful in 2003 with Kris Kin, is responsible for 11 entries.

Sue Magnier, no stranger to Vodafone Derby success with Galileo carrying her colors to victory in 2001, bids to continue her run in 2005 with 32 entries--all but one with Aidan O'Brien. Michael Tabor, who races many of his horses in partnership with Mrs. Magnier, including the 2002 Vodafone Derby winner High Chaparral, has 27 entered, of whom 24 are with O'Brien while one is trained by Andrew Balding and two are in France with John Hammond.

The Queen has six entries--four with Sir Michael Stoute and two with Roger Charlton, while local Epsom hopes for success lie with Terry Mills‚ three entries.

There is a sizeable entry from across the Channel, not least from Andre Fabre's stable, with 20 engaged in one of the few big races that has so far eluded the Frenchman.

The classic entry of 648 yearlings also sees a new high of 199 different owners (compared to 175 for the 2004 Vodafone Derby). Over 60 different syndicates, partnerships and studs have entered yearlings, showing that the dream of winning is not confined to just the big owners.

"We are very grateful for the continued support of the Vodafone Derby from all the major owners," commented Epsom Downs Racecourse managing director Stephen Wallis, "but we particularly welcome the growing number of smaller owners and syndicates who have joined in pursuit of The Derby Dream and very much hope to see them and their horses on Epsom Downs in 18 months time."

A full list of the entries for the 2005 Vodafone Derby is available from Weatherbys.