Leading Epsom Derby contenders stand firm after latest scratchings deadline

Leading Derby favourites Bolshoi Ballet, High Definition, Mohaafeth, John Leeper and Hurricane Lane remain in place for the Epsom Classic following the latest forfeit deadline.

A total of 29 horses remain in the reckoning for the Epsom Derby, with the field being eventually whittled down over the coming weeks ahead of the mile and a half Group One Classic on June 5.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien still has eight chances in the big race, with ante-post favourite Bolshoi Ballet leading his charge, following victories in the Ballysax Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial - a route followed by his sire Galileo 20 years ago.

The O'Brien team will be seeking a ninth success in the premier Classic, and also have another strong chance with High Definition, who headed the market throughout the winter but lost that spot after a blood disorder forced him to miss his comeback in the Lingfield Derby Trial.

He returned in the Dante Stakes at York last week, making quite eyecatching late gains to finish third to Hurricane Lane.

Hurricane Lane is one of four left in by Charlie Appleby, together with Adayar, One Ruler and Yibir.

John Leeper booked his ticket with victory at Newmarket on Saturday, with the beautifully-bred colt set to be a first Derby runner in five years for Ed Dunlop; a Frankel colt that is named after his late father.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the great Mill Reef's Derby triumph.

One of the all-time greats of the Turf, Mill Reef was trained by Ian Balding, whose son Andrew has an interesting contender in the shape of Chester Vase winner Youth Spirit.

Balding has saddled seven Derby runners to date, faring best with Khalifa Sat, who outran his 50-1 odds to finish runner-up to Serpentine in 2020. Like Khalifa Sat, Youth Spirit is owned by Ahmad Al Shaikh.

Balding said: "The Derby is still the plan for Youth Spirit. He seems fine after his run at Chester, he hasn't done a lot since but he's come out of the race well.

"The key thing to find out that day was whether he stayed the trip and he saw it out well. He'll go there with no stamina doubts, which there will be about some of the field and that's got to be to his advantage, but it's a much stronger race than the Chester Vase was so he's got to up his game again.

"I don't think that the track will faze him. He's a very well-balanced horse and he handled Chester well, so he shouldn't have a problem with Epsom Downs. He's a different horse to Khalifa Sat, but both are very talented and if we can get the same result as last year with Youth Spirit, we'd be delighted.

"It's great for the owner to have another contender for the race. He's a big supporter of racing and he's got plenty of horses in training with many yards, so it's lovely for him to have another candidate for the Epsom Derby.

"It's the most important race of the year for any Flat trainer I think and to have a horse good enough to run in it is an achievement in itself - anything else on the day would be a massive bonus."

Current Cazoo Epsom Derby entries: (Horse and trainer)

  • Adayar (IRE) - Charlie Appleby
  • Bolshoi Ballet (IRE) - Aidan O'Brien
  • Earlswood (GB) - Johnny Murtagh
  • El Drama (IRE) - Roger Varian
  • Etonian (IRE) - Richard Hannon
  • Gear Up (IRE) - Mark Johnston
  • Gloucestershire (USA) - Martyn Meade
  • Hector de Maris (IRE) - Aidan O'Brien
  • High Definition (IRE) - Aidan O'Brien
  • Hurricane Lane (IRE) - Charlie Appleby
  • John Leeper (IRE) - Ed Dunlop
  • Kyprios (IRE) - Aidan O'Brien
  • Lone Eagle (IRE) - Martyn Meade
  • Mac Swiney (IRE) - Jim Bolger
  • Mohaafeth (IRE) - William Haggas
  • Mojo Star (IRE) - Richard Hannon
  • One Ruler (IRE) - Charlie Appleby
  • Sandhurst (IRE) - Aidan O'Brien IRE
  • Seattle Creek (GB) - Luke Comer
  • Seattle Sound (IRE) - Luke Comer
  • Sir Lamorak (IRE) - Aidan O'Brien
  • Southern Lights (IRE) - Patrick O'Brien
  • Stay Well (GB) - Hughie Morrison
  • Taipan (FR) - Jessica Harrington IRE
  • The Mediterranean (IRE) - Aidan O'Brien
  • Third Realm (GB) - Roger Varian
  • Van Gogh (USA)- Aidan O'Brien
  • Yibir (GB) - Charlie Appleby
  • Youth Spirit (IRE) - Andrew Balding