Edited press release
Topped by 36 entries from trainer Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore Stud connections, a total of 138 horses remain nominated for the 230th running of the £1.25 million Epson Derby (Eng-I) at the first scratching deadline.
The 1 1/2-mile classic will be renewed this year at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 6. The 138 horses going forward amount to 13 more than at this stage last year. All of the 3-year-olds were entered in the 2009 Derby as yearlings and there is a second £8,000 entry stage on April 7 as well as a final £75,000 supplementary entry opportunity five days before the race on June 1.
O’Brien and the Coolmore team won the Derby in 2001 with Galileo, now Europe’s champion stallion, and a year later with High Chaparral and they boast a formidable squad going into the 2009 race.
Included among O’Brien’s nominees are dual group I winner Mastercraftsman, group III Tyros Stakes winner Rip Van Winkle, and Westphalia, whose year was completed with second spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita after winning the group II Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.
Fame And Glory, Drumbeat and Age Of Aquarius - respectively first, second and fourth in last season’s group I Criterium de Saint-Cloud - are also engaged along with the group II-placed Grand Ducal, Beresford Stakes third Masterofthehorse and Racing Post Trophy fourth Set Sail.
Black Bear Island, Freemantle, Golden Sword, Indian Ocean, Liszt, Malibu Bay and Sirgarfieldsobers, a full-brother to 2007 Derby hero Authorized, were all impressive maiden winners with great potential.
There are 51 entries from Ireland, with Jim Bolger, successful in the 2008 Derby with New Approach, accounting for six representatives including the Group I Darley Dewhurst Stakes winner Intense Focus and the highly-regarded Gan Amhras.
Trainer John Oxx, who won the 2000 Derby with Sinndar, has a five-strong entry that includes Beresford Stakes winner Sea The Stars, a half-brother to Galileo, and runner-up Mourayan as well as group II Futurity Stakes victor Arazan.
The domestic team includes group I Racing Post Trophy hero Crowded House, trained by Brian Meehan, the Marcus Tregoning-trained Taameer and Lingfield maiden winner Sans Frontieres, who could bid to give leading jump owner Sir Robert Ogden a flat success at the highest level. The Galileo colt cost 450,000 guineas as a yearling and is in training with Jeremy Noseda.
“It’s obviously early days but we have kept Sans Frontieres in the Derby and hopefully he will reappear at the Craven meeting at Newmarket in mid April,” said Ogden’s racing manager Barry Simpson. “He had entries in some of the leading juvenile races last season but we decided not to run him because of the ground. There seemed little point in running him on soft ground at that point of the season and we decided to wait with him.”
Although Ogden is best known for his jump exploits, he has owned two previous Derby runners in Majestic Maharaj, who finished 14th in the 1978 race, and Florida Son, who came 18th four years later. Both horses were trained by Jack Hanson.
This could be an exciting year on the racecourse for the Queen, who is represented in next week’s totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup by Barbers Shop. She also owns a leading Oaks candidate in Enlightenment and two colts with live Derby hopes in Free Agent, winner of the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Autumn Stakes third Four Winds.
The Godolphin stable has nine entries including several new recruits such as Kite Wood, winner of the group III Autumn Stakes when with Michael Jarvis, La De Two, who was formerly trained by Barry Hills and Racing Post Trophy third Skanky Biscuit, who has been recruited from Brian Meehan’s stable. Emirates Champion, a Great Leighs maiden winner last year, and the unraced $2.9 million purchase My Vision are among Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s other entries.
This year’s Derby additional international flavour with five French-trained entries, the Italian-trained Maimonides and three from Rashid Bouresly’s Middle-East stable adding further interest.