Epsom Derby 2016: Middle distance stars among 28 entries for Coronation Cup

Star performers  Postponed and Jack Hobbs headline 28 excellent entries, four more than last year, for the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs on Saturday 4th June.

Staged over the same mile and a half course as the Investec Derby and Investec Oaks, the Group One Investec Coronation Cup, worth £400,000, is for horses aged four and older and has a terrific roll of honour.

Postponed is unbeaten in two starts since joining Roger Varian, most recently beating Japanese star Duramente impressively by two lengths in the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic over 12 furlongs at Meydan on 26th March.

The five-year-old proved himself among the best in Europe when trained by Luca Cumani, denying Eagle Top (John Gosden) by a nose in the Group One King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July last year.

The lightly-raced Jack Hobbs(John Gosden) was runner-up to stable companion Golden Horn in last year’s Investec Derby before gaining an impressive five-length victory in the Irish Derby, also over 12 furlongs, at the Curragh.

The Godolphin colt ended his three-year-old campaign with a fine third in the Group One QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot when dropping back to 10 furlongs.

The four-year-old son of Halling is due to reappear in the Group Two Dunaden At Overbury Jockey Club Stakes over 12 furlongs at Newmarket on 30th April.

There are five French-trained entries for the Investec Coronation Cup, one more than in 2015.

Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre is eyeing a drop back in trip for stable star Vazirabad. The four-year-old won five on the bounce in 2015 as he improved throughout the year, culminating in a length victory over Siljan’s Saga (Jean-Pierre Gauvin) in the Group One Prix Royal-Oak at Saint Cloud over nearly two miles in October.

The four-year-old grey son of Manduro, owned and bred by the Aga Khan, made a fine winning return to action in the Group Two Dubai Gold Cup over two miles at Meydan, Dubai, on 26th March, beating Big Orange by a neck with nearly five lengths back to the third.

Royer-Dupre said: “Vazirabad has come back from Dubai OK. Normally, he would have to go for a race like the Investec Coronation Cup, but it will depend on the quality of the race and how he is nearer the time.

“The drop back in trip is not a problem because the racetrack at Epsom is more demanding than Meydan. Meydan is flat and the straight is not to so long. I think Epsom will be OK for him.”

Francis-Henri Graffard has two entered including Erupt, who was victorious in the Group One Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp in July and subsequently finished fifth in the Group One Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe and sixth in the Group One Japan Cup.

The great Cirrus Des Aigles was the last French-trained winner of the Investec Coronation Cup, defeating compatriot Flintshire by two lengths in 2014.

Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien has taken the Investec Coronation Cup spoils a record seven times since 2005 and has four to choose from, led by Breeders’ Cup Turf heroine and QIPCO Champion Stakes second Found and globetrotter Highland Reel, who landed Group One prizes in America and Hong Kong last year. His other two hopefuls are Bondi Beach and Father Christmas.

Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor trains the progressive Racing History, fourth in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, and Group One-placed filly Beautiful Romance.

Other star fillies entered in the Investec Coronation Cup are the British Classic winner Simple Verse(Ralph Beckett), successful the 2015 Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster and the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares’ Stakes, and Arabian Queen (David Elsworth), who inflicted Golden Horn’s first defeat in the Group One Juddmonte International at York in August.

The two-day Investec Derby Festival commences at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Friday 3rd June, with Ladies’ Day, when the premier fillies’ Classic, the Investec Oaks, is run.

The Investec Derby, Britain’s richest race worth at least £1,325,000, is the feature on the second and final day of the Investec Derby Festival, Saturday 4th June.

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