The countdown to the Investec Derby is well underway with the premier Classic due to be run at Epsom Downs on Saturday, 4th June, 2016. The latest acceptors for the Britain’s richest race, worth at least £1.325 million, have been unveiled with 22 hopefuls going forward (as against 16 at this stage in 2015).
Aidan O’Brien, seeking a sixth Investec Derby triumph, has eight contenders still engaged including Chester Vase victor US Army Ranger and The Gurkha, impressive winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas). Other Ballydoyle acceptors include Betfred Dante Stakes second Deauville, Chester Vase runner-up Port Douglas and Shogun, second in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.
Another trainer to have landed the Investec Derby five times is Newmarket-based Sir Michael Stout (pictured), who was last triumphant with Workforce in 2010. He has a trio remaining with bet365 Classic Trial winner Midterm, who disappointed last time in the Dante Stakes when injuring a hamstring, Lingfield Derby Trial third Across The Stars and Ulysses, an eye-catching maiden winner at Newbury on 13th May.
Godolphin has two contenders currently engaged, with Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial winner Moonlight Magic (Jim Bolger IRE) and Prize Money (Saeed bin Suroor).
Another entry going forward is the Kirsten Rausing-owned Algometer (David Simcock), runner-up to Midterm in the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park.
British Classic form is represented by Massaat (Owen Burrows), the length and a half runner-up to Galileo Gold in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket on 30th April.
There are 13 Irish-trained horses remaining. In addition to those from Aidan O’Brien and Jim Bolger, Ireland could also be represented by Ballysax Stakes scorer Harzand (Dermot Weld) plus Blue De Vega (Michael O’Callaghan) and Awtaad (Kevin Prendergast).
There is a £75,000 supplementary entry stage for the Investec Derby on Monday, 30th May when impressive Dante Stakes winner Wings Of Desire (John Gosden) is expected to be added to the field along with Godolphin’s Cloth Of Stars (Andre Fabre FR) who won the Group Two Prix Greffulhe on 8th May. Linguistic (John Gosden) and Humphrey Bogart (Richard Hannon), successful in the Lingfield Derby Trial, are among others who could be supplemented to the premier Classic.
Wings Of Desire and Cloth Of Stars top the Investec Derby Festival candidates set to exercise at the Breakfast With The Stars event on Tuesday 24th May.
The Investec Derby is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.