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Wednesday, December 19, 2007



474 ENTERED AT FIRST STAGE FOR 2009 DERBY




A total of 474 horses have been entered at the yearling stage for the 2009 Derby at Epsom Downs, details of which are revealed today, Wednesday, December 19, 2007.

The 2009 Derby will take place on Saturday, June 6 and the entry marks an increase of nine on the number of yearlings received last year for the 2008 Derby.

Authorized galloped to an impressive five-length victory in the 2007 running of the great Classic and the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained colt’s younger brother, by Montjeu out of Funsie, is entered for the Derby in 2009.


The youngster is part of the contingent from Coolmore, comprising of owners Sue Magnier (36 entries), Michael Tabor (19 entries), Derrick Smith (16 entries) and Anne Marie O’Brien (one entry) who are responsible, either individually or in collaboration, for 72 of the yearlings engaged.


Coolmore’s principal handler, the Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien, is responsible for the preparation of 70 entries, significantly more than any other trainer.


Coolmore and O’Brien won the Derby in 2001 with Galileo and again in 2002 with High Chaparral. This year their entry includes a full brother to the latter, being by the great Sadler’s Wells out of Kasora, as well as an own brother to 2006 Oaks winner Alexandrova by the same sire out of Shouk.


O’Brien also has the Sue Magnier-owned Dalakhani colt out of Bella Lambada, who sold for one million guineas at Tattersalls in October, and the same trainer/owner combinations teams up with the Galileo colt out of Silver Pivotal, who was knocked down for 750,000 guineas at the same sale.


The Coolmore entry also includes a US$1.7 million buy from Keeneland’s September Sale, by Storm Cat out of Mythomania.

Hamdan Al Maktoum saw his famous blue and white colours carried to victory in Turf’s Blue Riband aboard Nashwan in 1989 and again on Erhaab in 1994 and he has 46 yearlings entered for the 2009 Derby.


Sheikh Mohammed is the driving force behind the Maktoum family’s Godolphin operation. The Dubai team won the 1995 Derby with the brilliant Lammtarra and has 32 youngsters entered, including a Cape Cross colt out of the 1988 Oaks winner Diminuendo and a Pivotal yearling out of the 1995 Oaks heroine Moonshell.


The Godolphin contingent also has a US$2.9 million Keeneland September yearling by Dynaformer out of Grade One winner Preach, as well as a Distorted Humor colt out of Stormy Bear, purchased at the same sale for US$1.9 million. The Godolphin entry includes the three-parts brother to Divine Proportions, by Gone West out of Myth To Reality, who made one million guineas at Tattersalls in October.

Shergar romped to victory in the 1981 Derby, winning by a record 10-length margin for the Aga Khan, and the owner enjoyed further success in 1986 with Shahrastani, two years later with Kahyasi and again in 2000 with the brilliant Sinndar. He has entered 27 yearlings for 2009.


Trainer Henry Cecil last won the Derby in 1999 when Oath triumphed under Kieren Fallon. The trainer has also been successful with Slip Anchor (1985), Reference Point (1987) and Commander In Chief (1993) and he has five 2009 Derby entries at his Warren Place Stables.


Cecil’s quintet includes a son of his 2000 Oaks winner Love Divine as well as an Aldebaran half-brother to his 2007 Oaks winner Light Shift and fellow Group One winner Shiva, out of Lingerie.

The Aldebaran colt is one of six horses engaged by the Niarchos family, who also have two Storm Cat colts entered in training with Pascal Bary, one being named Yangon out of Shiva and the other the first foal of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Six Perfections.


Her Majesty The Queen came closest to Derby victory in her Coronation year of 1953 when Aureole chased home the Sir Gordon Richards-ridden Pinza. She has five colts engaged including Pied Piper, a homebred Pivotal youngster out of the 2001 Oaks runner-up Flight Of Fancy.


The latter is one of 22 entries trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who also has a brother to Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Islington and a son of 1998 Oaks winner Shahtoush, by Fusaichi Pegasus.


In all, five Oaks winners have sons entered for the 2009 Derby, with Brian Meehan training a Giant’s Causeway colt out of 1996 heroine Lady Carla.

Irish handler John Oxx has 14 entries in his care including a colt named Sea The Stars by Cape Cross out of Urban Sea, making him a half-brother to 2001 Derby victor Galileo and the Oaks placed fillies All Too Beautiful and Melikah.


Khalid Abdullah has seen his colours carried to victory in the Derby on two occasions thanks to Quest For Fame (1990) and Commander In Chief (1993). The Saudi prince has five entries in the list this time, including a Dansili half-brother to Group One winner Passage Of Time, a Dalakhani colt out of Group Two winner Daring Miss and a Galileo colt out of Ebor winner Tuning.


Sir Mark Prescott, who enjoyed his first Classic success with Confidential Lady in the 2006 Prix de Diane, has 11 entries, including a Rock Of Gibraltar colt out of his Group Three winner Humouresque.


Michael Bell and the Royal Ascot Racing Club tasted Derby victory with Motivator in 2005 and they team up again with an Anabaa youngster.


Irish handler Jim Bolger saddled Jet Ski Lady to win the 1991 Oaks and has trained the past two European champion two-year-olds, Teofilo and New Approach, with the latter being the current ante-post favourite for the 2008 Derby. He has eight 2009 Derby entries in his charge, including four sired by 2001 Derby winner Galileo.


Last season’s winning trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam has four entries in his yard including a Galileo colt for Authorized’s owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar.


England and Newcastle footballer Michael Owen owns two of the entries - a Mtoto colt plus a Pivotal colt out of his Listed winner Treble Heights.


The only filly entered is Sandy Alexander’s Greenbank Destiny, who is by Tobougg out of Sea Isle.


The 2009 Derby, run over a mile and a half, will be worth at least £1,250,000. There is a second entry option on April 7, 2009.




EBF TO GO FORWARD UNDER NEW CHAIRMAN




Harry McCalmont, owner of Norelands Stud in Ireland, takes over from the long-serving Michael Wates as chairman of the co-ordinating committee of the European Breeders’ Fund on January 1.


Wates steps down after 18 years as chairman and 24 years in all on the co-ordinating committee of the important organisation which injects substantial amounts of prize money into European racing.


McCalmont becomes only the third chairman since the EBF was founded in 1983 as the European counterpart to the fledgling American Breeders’ Cup scheme which was established for the purpose of revitalising the American racing industry through revenue drawn from stallion fees.

The EBF was intended to be not only a measure of self-help for European racing, but also a means of securing access for European horses to some of the benefits of the Breeders' Cup scheme through cross registration. These aims and more have been achieved.

It will be a poignant moment for McCalmont when he becomes chairman in the New Year because his late father, Victor, was the initial chairman.

McCalmont commented: “I have been a governor of the Irish EBF for 14 years and chairman of the Irish EBF for eight or nine years so I have been on the co-ordinating committee for that time.


“It is a very nice thing to be able to take up the chairmanship. My father, I believe, was a very well respected chairman and I’m delighted to be able to follow in his footsteps and also to be able to take over from Michael Wates who has held the position for 18 years.


“Michael has been a very good chairman for the EBF. His contribution has been extraordinary and he has not missed a single meeting in the past 18 years.


“We have been through some ups and downs and have had some disagreements around the table and Michael has always conducted the meetings with skill and extra fairness.”

The original participating countries in the EBF were France, Britain and Ireland. They were joined in 1986 by Germany and Italy, with Switzerland coming on board three years later.


“Michael has been perceived by all the countries in the EBF as being an extremely fair and impartial chairman and I only hope that I can do the same,” explained McCalmont.


“I am particularly looking forward to meeting and talking with the Breeders’ Cup team - our counterparts in the USA, which is an extremely important facet of the EBF.

“They are expanding the Breeders’ Cup with a further three new races next year so I think it is very important that the EBF is seen to be a partner in the Breeders’ Cup races and to be involved in the whole operation.

“I will also be reminding them of the enormous contribution that the Europeans have made to the Breeders’ Cup over the years and that there has been something in excess of US$4-billlion (dollars) worth of yearlings imported from the US by Europeans since the Breeders’ Cup started.”

The new chairman is keen to see the EBF expand.


He reported: “We have had visiting delegates from various Eastern European countries at our meetings and it is very much on our agenda to try and spread the EBF message into new countries that are becoming a force in both racing and breeding.

“Turkey would be a priority for us as they have such strong racing and a good breeding programme - the prize money is very good there and it is important to talk to them.”

Only Sam Sheppard, the EBF’s chief executive and secretary, can match Wates’ commitment to the EBF since the organisation was formed.


Wates reflected on his time with the EBF: “It has been a big chunk of my life and I have enjoyed the role.


“It has been rewarding in so much as the EBF has progressed immensely in the last 24 years. A lot of money comes in from the United States now, the stallion owners in Europe have totally accepted the scheme and it is working very well.

“But 18 years is long enough and I am delighted that Harry McCalmont is taking over as chairman. I have got to the age where I should be giving jobs up and not taking them on.”

There have been plenty of achievements but the one he picks out for special mention is the fruitful relationship with America.


“I think the thing that I have been most pleased about is the relationship that we’ve had with Breeders’ Cup and, through that relationship, we have built up a good in-flow of dollars each year into European racing.


“Each European nation decides what it does with its own money. I look from above if you like. I have seen virtually all the monies going into prize money and I think that has been of huge significance, particularly in Britain where prize money has been so poor. I think that owners are delighted that the EBF is contributing to prize money at ever-increasing levels.


“The big thing is that we have supported maiden races and fillies’ races, but the policy is very much down to the individual countries. The EBF’s role is to ensure that the agreement between the countries is honoured and we use the money correctly.


“I do think that the involvement of Germany and Italy from 1986 and Switzerland’s participation from 1989 has brought greater unity to European racing. We are looking forward to when we get some of the Eastern European countries involved.

“We already sponsor some races in Eastern Europe to raise our profile. Turkey is a thoroughly good racing and breeding country,

“I would like to think it won’t be too long before we get those countries fully involved in the EBF. I absolutely believe there will be further expansion.”

Wates is more than happy with his successor at the EBF.


“Harry takes over on January 1 and the nice thing is that it has gone full circle as his father Major Victor McCalmont was the first chairman and I followed him, so Harry will be the third chairman, following in his father’s footsteps.”

He looked back to the formation of the EBF in 1983.

“I think the Breeders’ Cup inspired the Europeans - people like Alec Head, John Magnier and Bob McCreery - to see if we could do something similar.

“We have had this wonderful cross relationship which sees their horses racing in Europe and our horses having access to the Breeders’ Cup.

“At times it was quite a shaky relationship and, in the darker days, I worried it might be lost but now it is very strong and every year we go to the Breeders’ Cup and are looked after royally. I’m sure the relationship will go on for a very long time and I am proud of that.


“My time at the EBF has been very enjoyable and I have had great support from all members of the committee throughout and all the countries have understood at times that we need to give and take in order to get things done. It has been a joy to work with them.


“I started as a BEBF trustee and then I succeeded Victor McCalmont as chairman while still a trustee of the BEBF. I then retired as a BEBF trustee and the committee flatteringly asked me to stay on as an independent chairman, which I have done for the last 10 years or so. It has been very rewarding.

“I was a trustee right from the outset. I have attended every meeting of the EBF. We had our 80th meeting recently and Sam Sheppard and I are the only ones who have been to them all.”



ALERON SET TO LINE UP IN skybet.com ROWLAND MEYRICK CHASE




John Quinn is set to run Aleron in the £50,000 Grade Three skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (1.25pm), run over three miles and a furlong, at Wetherby on Boxing Day, Wednesday December 26, the first day of the West Yorkshire track’s two-day Sky Bet Christmas meeting.


The talented nine-year-old was second behind Harmony Brig in the Listed Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on December 1 and Malton-based Quinn may continue to race his gelding in handicap company, despite reservations about Aleron’s current chase mark.


Quinn said: “Aleron will be entered for the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day. I was pleased with his run in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, but the handicapper has put him up five pounds for finishing second, which is nearly a penalty.”

Having ended last season finishing sixth in the Grade Two Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April, Aleron has been kept busy since and the nine-year-old was a game winner of a competitive handicap chase at Market Rasen on November 11.

Quinn is anticipating another good performance if Aleron takes his chance in the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase, and the trainer hopes that a return to Wetherby will suit his gelding.


Quinn commented: “He always runs his race and is paying for his consistency. He’s been round Wetherby three times before and won a novice hurdle there (in November 2004), so the course will be no problem for him, but we wouldn’t want the ground to be heavy.”

The skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase is the 21st race in the Order of Merit series, and is always contested by some of the season’s top staying chasers. Last season’s renewal was won by the Ferdy Murphy-trained Leading Man, who is set return to defend his crown this year.


Other recent winners include Gunner Welburn, who triumphed in 2003 having finished fourth in that year’s Grand National, and the 2003 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Truckers Tavern, who captured the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase in 2004.


The second day of the Sky Bet Christmas meeting, on Thursday, December 27, includes the £30,000 skybet.com Castleford Chase (3.05pm), run over an extended two miles, which reverted to handicap status last season and was won by Calatagan, trained near Malton by Malcolm Jefferson.


The ground at Wetherby is currently good to soft, good in places, and rails will be moved so that the Sky Bet Christmas meeting will be run on fresh ground.

While the Premier Enclosure has nearly sold out, there is still good availability for all of Wetherby’s other enclosures. Gates open to the public at 10am on both days, and there will be complimentary mulled wine and mince pies for the ‘early birds’ on Boxing Day.

Advance bookings can be purchased at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk or by phoning 01937 582 035.

Admission Prices (December 26 & 27): Premier Enclosure £27, Paddock Enclosure £16, Pick of the Paddock £20 (includes admission to the Paddock Enclosure, £3 Refreshment Voucher, £2 Tote Betting Voucher and Racecard - must be booked in advance), Course Enclosure £5, Cars into the Course Enclosure (including four adults) £17, Accompanied Children under 16 FREE, Car Parking FREE.


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