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Aidan O'Brien mob-handed with 35 of 111 Investec Derby entries

Last Updated: 07/03/13 12:20pm

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Kingsbarns: One of 35 entries from Aidan O'Brien

Kingsbarns: One of 35 entries from Aidan O'Brien

Sky Bet

There is less than three months until the world's premier Classic, the Investec Derby, and the countdown continues with the announcement of the 111 three-year-olds going forward following the latest scratchings stage.

The 234th running of the Investec Derby, the most valuable race staged in Britain with a prize fund of £1.325 million, takes place at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 1 and a fantastic renewal looks assured.

Those remaining in the race were all entered as yearlings in December, 2011. There is a second £8,000 entry stage on Tuesday, April 9 and a final £75,000 supplementary entry stage five days before the race on May 27.

Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien has his customary strong hand with 35 entries looking to add to the success of Camelot in 2012.

Kingsbarns, like Camelot the winner of the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster as a two-year-old, is among the powerful O'Brien entry and is currently favourite for the race.

The highly-touted Mars, runaway winner of a Dundalk maiden on his only start in July, is another O'Brien entry, along with Group One Keeneland Phoenix Stakes scorer Pedro The Great, Group Two Juddmonte Beresford Stakes winner Battle Of Marengo and The United States, successful in a Curragh maiden on his only outing.

While O'Brien has won the Investec Derby three times, three-time Champion British Flat trainer Richard Hannon has not yet made a big impact in the Epsom Classic during a career spanning over 40 years.

But Hannon is hoping that the unbeaten Toronado, winner of three races last year culminating in the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September, may be able to put that record straight on June 1.

"We will be looking at the Investec Derby for Toronado after he has run in one of the Guineas, but we have not decided which one he will go for at the moment," said Richard Hannon junior, assistant to his father.

"He is in great form and he has done very well over the winter so we are very pleased with him - we always thought he would make a lovely three-year-old."

Hannon senior has had nine runners in the Derby, the first of them in 1973 and his best placing so far has been sixth with Gran Alba in 1989. Toronado is priced at 16/1 with Sky Bet.

Richard Hannon junior continued: "We have always liked him from the time he went and won his maiden at Newbury and he continued to improve all year.

"In a couple of races last year, they did not go very fast early and he probably did not look as good as he could have done.

"It's exciting for the team as we have not had many Derby runners and we are looking forward to it."

Sir Alex Ferguson is part of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing's Wavertree syndicate that owns 9/1 chance Telescope, who was saddled by Sir Michael Stoute to win a Newmarket maiden impressively in September, while the Manchester United manager is also one of the owners of The Welsh Wizard, trained by Charlie Hills, who finished runner-up in a Wolverhampton maiden last week on his only start.

Newmarket trainer Sir Henry Cecil, successful in the Derby four times, has three entries, including Lingfield maiden winner Mighty Yar.

There are 16 split between Godolphin's two trainers, Mahmood Al Zarooni (11) and Saeed bin Suroor (5), including Chesham Stakes winner and Champagne Stakes third Tha'ir with the latter.

The Wildenstein family have recently returned to ownership in Britain and their Investec Derby entries include Parker Ridge, a half-brother to Peintre Celebre, among an unraced trio based with Newmarket-based Luca Cumani, who has twice sent out winner of the Epsom Downs Classic.

There are 12 French-trained entries (compared to six at this stage 12 months ago) and many have still to show their full potential.

The Aga Khan's Baradari, trained in Pau by Jean-Claude Rouget, scored at Toulouse in February.

Andre Fabre, successful with Pour Moi in the 2011 Investec Derby, trains Ocovango who won a Saint-Cloud maiden on his debut in November.

Adding to the international theme, there are two entries from Germany, the Andreas Wohler-trained Saint And Sinner and Superplex, based at Michael Figge's Munich stable.

Eye-catching Irish-based entries away from the O'Brien contingent include the Jim Bolger-trained Trading Leather, winner of the Group Three Autumn Stakes at Newmarket in October.

Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Epsom Downs Racecourse, commented: "Camelot continued a run of outstanding recent winners of the Investec Derby last year and the 2013 renewal is already promising to produce a field worthy of the richest race run in Britain.

"Proven Group performers remain engaged along with any number of less-exposed well-bred three-year-olds and we look forward to the Investec Derby picture clarifying over the coming weeks as the countdown to June 1 continues."

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