Group One winner Thunder Snow features among 10 exciting second entries revealed for this year’s premier Classic, the £1.5 million Investec Derby, which has the richest prize money ever offered in Britain.
This brings the number of three-year-olds going forward for glory in the Investec Derby to 136. The most famous of all Flat races is run over 12 furlongs at Epsom Downs, with a maximum field of 20 runners, on Saturday 3rd June, the second and final day of the Investec Derby Festival
The Godolphin-owned son of Helmet stormed to an impressive five-length success in the Criterium International over seven furlongs at Saint-Cloud, France, in October and is unbeaten in two appearances on dirt in Dubai so far this year, including a last-gasp victory in the G2 UAE Derby on 25th March.
Thunder Snow’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor, successful in the 1995 Investec Derby with Lammtarra, has also added Best Solution, runner-up in the 10-furlong G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud on the same card as the Criterium International, and impressive Kempton Park maiden scorer Leshlaa to the 2017 Investec Derby.
Godolphin is responsible for five second entries to Britain’s leading Classic race, including Syphax (Kevin Ryan) and Best Of Days (Hugo Palmer), who were separated by a head when finishing first and second in the G3 Acomb Stakes at York’s Ebor festival in August.
Best Of Days went on to frank the form of that race when gaining a neck verdict in Newmarket’s G2 Royal Lodge Stakes in October.
Akihiro, owned and bred by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, is unbeaten in two starts, including a cosy victory in the G3 Prix de Chenes at Deauville in September, when he had subsequent G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere victor National Defense back in third.
The three-year-old son of Deep Impact, from the family of star miler Goldikova, could bid to provide top French trainer Andre Fabre with a second Investec Derby success following on from Pour Moi in 2011.
Trainer John Gosden and owner/breeder Anthony Oppenheimer teamed up for Investec Derby glory in 2015 with Golden Horn and the same combination has given an entry to Cracksman, a Frankel colt who made an eye-catching debut when scoring at Newmarket at the end of last season.
Salouen, trained in Lambourn by Sylvester Kirk, broke the two-year-old course record time at Windsor with an impressive display in a mile maiden in August and the Canford Cliffs colt went on to acquit himself well in two of Europe’s top juvenile G1 races over the same trip.
After taking second behind National Defense in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly, at the start of October, Salouen stayed on strongly to finish third behind Rivet and Yucatan in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster 20 days later.
Kirk said: “Salouen is in good shape and the plan is to get him to Epsom for the Investec Derby. He has done really well over the winter. He has strengthened up lovely and could not be better at the moment.
“He performed well last year and definitely deserves the entry. He is out of a Galileo mare which gives me hope that he will get the mile and a half. You never know until you try, but he looked to stay well last year.
“We think he wants fast ground as he broke the two-year-old course record at Windsor on good to firm ground, although he did run well in the Racing Post Trophy on soft ground. I probably should have made more use of him that day but, given the ground, I didn’t want him bombing along and then stopping.
“I would have preferred the Chantilly race was run at Longchamp on the day. The stamina test at Longchamp would have suited him better than going around the sharp bend at Chantilly.
“I don’t know where he will start off yet. We will put him in all the good Derby trials and just see how the ground is looking nearer the time.”