Top class field for Vodafone Derby

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  • A series of classic trials have produced a variety of candidates for the £1.25million Derby on 5 June.

    The field remains open, but the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt, Yeats’ odds have tumbled since his victory in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown in April. A subsequent outing in the Derrinstown Stakes at Leopardstown, where Yeats made all the running, established the colt as firm Derby favourite.

    He has followed a classic road taken by three recent Derby winners. Sinndar, Galileo and High Chaparral, winners of the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Derby respectively, ran in both of the Leopardstown races: the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stakes before their Epsom wins.

    Although Godolphin’s colours have yet to be carried to victory in the 1m4f classic, three strong contenders remain in the running: Snow Ridge, second in the 2,000 Guineas, Duke of Venice and Rule of Law.

    Racing manager Simon Crisford said yesterday: ”We have left three horses in the Vodafone Derby today and it looks like we have more than one runner.

    “Frankie Dettori [who broke his finger in a freak accident at Goodwood earlier this week] is confident he will be fit to ride and he will partner Snow Ridge, all being well.”

    Other strong contenders for the title include North Light. Trainer Michael Stoute fancies him as an each way chance, and if his recent form at York, when he beat several in this field, is anything to go by, he could prove much better than that.

    However, there are still some doubts over American Post’s participation in the premier classic. The unbeaten colt had an unconvincing classic win at Longchamps on Sunday, and connections are refusing to be rushed into a decision about the Epsom race.

    Meanwhile, Salford City, who was a very doubtful contender after a disappointing sixth in the 2,000 guineas at the end of April, has been reinstated by bookmakers after positive words from trainer David Elsworth indicated that the Greenham Stakes winner could yet go forward for the 1m4f classic.

    The trainer had been concerned about the step up in distance for the horse, and although he is more likely to be saved for Royal Ascot, options are being kept open.

    Managing director at Epsom Downs, Stephen Wallis, said: “The Vodafone Derby is easily Europe’s richest race and we are delighted to have attracted the top middle-distance three-year-old colts for a fantastic renewal this year.”

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