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Saxon Warrior among 131 still in the mix for Investec Derby

8 Mar 2018

Aidan O'Brien will create more history if he again saddles the winner of Britain's premier Classic

Aidan O'Brien

O’Brien has 26 entries left in the Derby. Picture:

Ante-post favourite Saxon Warrior is one of 131 three-year-olds going forward for the Investec Derby at Epsom after the first scratchings’ stage.

The March 6 acceptance stage was the first for this year’s premier Classic and richest race, since 448 were entered as yearlings in December 2016.

There were 129 left in for the world’s most famous Flat race at this stage last year, while a maximum of 20 runners can line up at 4.30pm on June 2 in a race that forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series Middle Distance category.

The Classic, staged over a mile and a half, has a total prize fund of at least £1.5 million and is being run for the 239th time.

Wings Of Eagles provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with his sixth success in the Derby last year and Ireland’s champion Flat trainer has 26 entries remaining, all for Coolmore partnerships, the most of any handler.

They include unbeaten Group 1 Racing Post Trophy hero, the Japanese-bred Saxon Warrior, by Deep Impact out of a Galileo mare, and The Pentagon, a Galileo colt who finished third behind his stable companion at Doncaster.

If successful this year, O’Brien would join Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling as the most successful trainer in the Derby, which was first run in 1780.

O’Brien’s son Joseph, who rode two Investec Derby winners Australia (2014) and Camelot (2012) for his father, has six entries still remaining, while Newmarket trainer John Gosden, victorious with Benny The Dip (1998) and Golden Horn (2015), has the neck Racing Post Trophy runner-up Roaring Lion, owned by Qatar Racing, among his 11 entries.

Harry Dunlop is eyeing the Derby for Knight To Behold. The son of Sea The Stars was narrowly denied on debut in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Race at Newbury, which has produced four Derby winners over the years, before beating subsequent winner Bow Street in a mile maiden at Newmarket in October.

The Lambourn-based trainer revealed: “Knight To Behold is in good form and seems to have wintered really well.

“He is a nice horse and we were pleased to see the Godolphin horse that he beat at Newmarket come out afterwards and win nicely at Kempton.

“Knight To Behold is a horse who I think will stay, as his relatives did.

“We are aiming to start him off in a Derby trial of some description, with a view to going to Epsom if he proves good enough.

“We have said that the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park (on April 27) could be a good place to start, although nothing is set in stone yet.

“He will be entered in a few trials and we will see how he is closer to the time.”