Refuse to Bend and Seven O'Brien Trainees Still Eligible for Vodafone Derby
All the main contenders remain on course for the 2003 Vodafone Derby (Eng-I) after the final forfeit stage today (May 21), with 31 horses still engaged in the Ã¿Â¿1.2 million classic, compared to 25 at the same stage last year.
Heading the acceptors is the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas winner Refuse To Bend, trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld. The unbeaten Sadler's Wells colt will be bidding to become the first colt since Nashwan in 1989 to win both classics and only the third since the great Nijinsky in 1970. Refuse To Bend could be joined on June 7 by his stable companion Multazem, an impressive winner of a maiden race at the Curragh on his only start last month.
Aidan O'Brien is bidding to make history this year by becoming the first man ever to train three consecutive winners of the world's most famous race, following on from the victories of Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002). The master of Ballydoyle still has seven to choose from - Alberto Giacometti, Balestrini, Brian Boru, Handel, Hold That Tiger, Solskjaer and The Great Gatsby.
The strong hand of the Irish this year is further strengthened by the presence of the John Oxx-trained Alamshar. The Key Of Luck 3-year-old has followed the same path as thelast three Vodafone Derby winners, having won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on his latest appearance.
Godolphin still has a quartet of entries engaged at this stage. They include Lateen Sails, who landed the Listed Michael Seely Memorial Glasgow Stakes at York on his latest appearance, along with Songlark and Graikos, who both ran well when fourth and fifth respectively in the Tote Dante Stakes at York. The Godolphin contingent is completed by New South Wales.
Dalakhani is the one remaining entry from France. The unbeaten half-brother to Daylami has won all of his five starts to date, most recently taking the Group One Prix Lupin at Longchamp on May 11.
Magistretti won the Tote Dante Stakes at York earlier this month and he looks to head the home challenge, along with the Mark Tompkins-trained Franklins Gardens who already has experience of the unique demands of the Vodafone Derby course, having won the Weatherbys Blue Riband Trial Stakes at Epsom Downs on April 23 before goingon to victory in the Bet Attheraces Derby Trial Stakes (Eng-III) at Lingfield on May 10, when he had Let Me Try Again in second. Let Me Try Again is trained in Epsom by Terry Mills and will be bidding to become the first Epsom-trained winner of the Vodafone Derby since April The Fifth in 1932 (Straight Deal won the wartime Derby at Newmarket in 1943).
Shield won the group III Bonusprint.com Classic Trial at Sandown Park on April 25 with Strength 'N Honour back in third. Gerard Butler's colt will be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Shahrastani, Shergar, Henbit and Troy, who all won at Sandown before going on to score at Epsom Downs.
Barry Hills has trained the runner-up of the Vodafone Derby on four occasions and this year the Lambourn trainer has a trio of entries still to choose from - Dunhill Star, Gala Sunday and Private Charter. Veteran Newmarket trainer Clive Brittain, who sent out Terimon to finish second at 500-1 in 1989, also has two entries remaining in the shape of Lundy's Lane and Titruel.
The other entries include the John Gosden-trained Summerland, recent Newbury handicap winner Prince Nureyev and Unigold, who finished runner up in the Listed Letheby & Christopher Predominate Stakes at Goodwood on Tuesday. Completing the field are John Dunlop's maiden Alabanov, Abunawwas trained in Ireland by Kevin Prendergast and the outsider Skellings Rock, from the small yard of Brendan Duke.
Stephen Wallis, Managing Director at Epsom Downs Racecourse, commented: "I am delighted to see that all the main contenders are still engaged in the Vodafone Derby and we look forward to welcoming any more entries at the supplementary entry stage on June 2 for what looks set to be a great renewal of the premier classic.
"All the big owners arewell represented but it is great to see that there are still several smaller owners pursuing the dream of Derby success."
The Vodafone Derby's next confirmation stage is at the five-day stage on June 2 when there is one last chance to add a horse to the field--the Ã¿Â¿90,0000 supplementary entry stage.
THE 2003 VODAFONE DERBY Class A, group I, Showcase Race, Epsom Downs, Total Prize Fund Ã¿Â¿1,200,000 Saturday, June 7, 2003, one mile, four furlongs and about ten yards for 3--year-olds. Final declaration stage 10am June 5, 2003.
Horse, Owner, Trainer
ABUNAWWAS (IRE), Hamdan Al Maktoum, Kevin Prendergast
ALAMSHAR (IRE), H H Aga Khan, John Oxx
ALBANOV (IRE), Michael Watt, John Dunlop
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (IRE), Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
BALESTRINI (IRE), Michael Tabor, Aidan O'Brien
BRIAN BORU, Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
DALAKHANI (IRE), HH Aga Khan, Alain de Royer Dupre
DUNHILL STAR (IRE), Mohamed Obaida, Barry Hills
FRANKLINS GARDENS, Maggie Barwell, Mark Tompkins
GALA SUNDAY (USA), Khalid Abdullah, Barry Hills
GRAIKOS, Godolphin, Saeed bin Suroor
HANDEL (IRE), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
HOLD THAT TIGER (USA), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
LATEEN SAILS, Godolphin, Saeed bin Suroor
LET ME TRY AGAIN (IRE), Terry Mills, Terry Mills
LUNDY'S LANE (IRE), Saeed Manana, Clive Brittain
MAGISTRETTI (USA), Michael Tabor, Neville Callaghan
MULTAZEM (USA), Hamdan Al Maktoum, Dermot Weld
NEW SOUTH WALES, Godolphin, Saaed bin Suroor
PRINCE NUREYEV (IRE), H Gooding, Rod Millman
PRIVATE CHARTER, Robert Sangster, Barry Hills
REFUSE TO BEND (IRE), Moyglare Stud Farms Ltd, Dermot Weld
SHIELD, Hesmonds Stud, Gerard Butler
SKELLIGS ROCK (IRE), P.J. Moriarty, Brendan Duke
SOLSKJAER (IRE), Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
SONGLARK, Godolphin, Saeed bin Suroor
STRENGTH 'N HONOUR, Annie Cyzer, Charles Cyzer
SUMMERLAND (IRE), Robert Sangster, John Gosden
THE GREAT GATSBY (IRE), Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
TITUREL, Brian Voak, Clive Brittain
UNIGOLD (USA), Abdullah BuHaleeba, Ed Dunlop