A total of 149 horses remain in the 2001 Vodafone Derby, run at Epsom on Saturday, June 9, after the first forfeit stage. They include 32 trained in Ireland, 19 currently stabled in Dubai and six from France. The number of entries at this stage has been bettered only once in the last four years.Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien heads the way with 21 entries, including the superbly-bred Galileo, winner of a Leopardstown maiden by 14 lengths on his only start, the Listed Acomb Stakes victor Hemingway, Group 1 National Stakes scorer Beckett and the Houghton Sales race winner Mozart.Godolphin's trainer Saeed bin Suroor follows closely behind with 17 entries, including the dual Group 1 victor Tobougg, winner of the Dewhurst Stakes and Prix de la Salamandre, Rumpold, successful on his only start at Ascot in July when trained by Paul Cole, Equerry, winner of a Longchamp Group 3 for Andre Fabre, the recent UAE 2,000 Guineas scorer Street Cry, and a whole host of less-exposed entries including Dubai Millennium's three-parts brother Dubai Vision, who finished second on his debut at Nad Al Sheba on February 22.
Nayef, a half-brother to the 1989 Epsom hero Nashwan, is currently the post favorite for the Vodafone Derby on the back of two wins from two starts, including Ascot's Listed Autumn Stakes by six lengths. Others prominent in the betting include the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy hero Dilshaan and Chepstow maiden winner Golan, two of the eight entries trained by Sir Michael Stoute, plus Theatre Script, winner of a Doncaster maiden on his only start for owner Robert Sangster and trainer John Gosden.All of the forfeits were entered for the £1-million Vodafone Derby as yearlings but there is a second entry stage on April 11, when horses can be added at a cost of £8,000, and a £75,000 supplementary entry stage a week before the Epsom classic on Saturday, June 2."There are less than three months to go until the Vodafone Derby and we are very encouraged by the excellent number of horses that remain in the race including both last year's top performers and some impeccably-bred less exposed types," said Andrew Cooper, Group racing Manager at United Racecourses.