EUROPE'S top-rated horse Cracksman headlines 13 acceptors for the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup (3.10pm) at Epsom Downs on Friday, June 1st, Investec Ladies' Day, following the latest scratchings' deadline, details of which are released today.
One of the highlights of the first day of the Investec Derby Festival, the Investec Coronation Cup is run over the same mile and a half course and distance as the two famous Classics, the Group 1 Investec Derby and the Group 1 Investec Oaks, with this year's renewal worth a record £420,000 (up £20,000 on 2017).
Cracksman, a brilliant winner of the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, made an exciting start to his four-year-old campaign at Longchamp, France, on April 29th, when he gained an easy victory in the extended 10-furlong Group 1 Prix Ganay.
The Frankel colt, owned and bred by Anthony Oppenheimer, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, is going to make a third appearance at Epsom Downs, having won the Investec Derby Trial and finished a close third in the Investec Derby in April and June respectively last year.
He is the 8/13 favourite for the 2018 Investec Coronation Cup with Unibet, the official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
Godolphin's Hawkbill (Charlie Appleby, 8/1), third in last year's Investec Coronation Cup, has also returned in 2018 in good style, with two victories at Meydan, UAE, in March headed by a three-length win over Poet's Word (Sir Michael Stoute, 9/1) in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic on March 31st.
Andre Fabre boasts an enviable record in the Investec Coronation Cup, with six successes, and the legendary Chantilly handler has left in the 2017 G1 Prix Ganay victor, Godolphin's Cloth Of Stars (10/1), alongside G1 Prix du Jockey Club second Waldgeist (14/1).
CHAMPION FLAT TRAINER
Ireland's champion flat trainer Aidan O'Brien has won the Investec Coronation Cup a record eight times and the master of Ballydoyle has four contenders going forward headed by Idaho (13/2) and Cliffs of Moher (13/2), both by Galileo, who have each been placed in the Investec Derby.
Five-year-old Idaho, a comfortable winner of the extended 13-furlong Group 3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester on May 10th, finished third to Harzand in the 2016 Investec Derby and came home sixth behind his full-brother and now-retired stable companion Highland Reel in last season's Investec Coronation Cup.
Cliffs Of Moher finished a neck in front of Cracksman when runner-up to 2017 Investec Derby winner and stable companion Wings Of Eagles and the four-year-old colt gained a smooth victory on his latest appearance in the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas on May 7th.
O'Brien commented earlier this week: "I would imagine one of Cliffs Of Moher or Idaho would run in the Investec Coronation Cup.
"Idaho won well at Chester. The plan was to run at Chester in the Ormonde and then head to Epsom - that still is the plan.
"After Chester, Ryan (Moore) said he could be a horse who would stay further. Seamie (Heffernan), when he rode him in the St Leger, said he was going very easy, so it seems to make sense that he wants further.
"Cliffs Of Moher could go for the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Investec Coronation Cup. His best run was in the Investec Derby and we were very happy with him the last day.
"He is a good, strong traveller, but, speaking to Ryan, he said to not rule out the Coronation Cup. We have to decide that as well, so it will be interesting."
O'Brien has also left in dual Group 1-winning filly Hydrangea (20/1) who is set to line up in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, Ireland, on May 27th, and Mooresbridge Stakes third Yucatan (33/1).
Recent Ascot listed winner Barsanti (Roger Varian, 40/1), 2014 Investec Derby fifth Red Galileo (Saeed bin Suroor, 100/1) and Group 1 runner-up Salouen (Sylvester Kirk, 100/1) complete the acceptors.
The Investec Coronation Cup is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.