Favourites Seventh Heaven and Jack Hobbs among 21 confirmations for Investec Coronation Cup
The latest acceptors were revealed on Wedneday for the two key supporting races at Epsom Downs during the Investec Derby Festival, the £400,000 Group One Investec Coronation Cup on Friday, June 2 and the £100,000 Investec Corporate Banking 'Dash' Handicap on Saturday, June 3.
Top-class filly Seventh Heaven (Aidan O'Brien IRE) is among 21 going forward for the Investec Coronation Cup over a mile and a half, which reverts to its traditional Friday slot this year. She is 3/1 joint-favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
Seventh Heaven captured two G1 races last season, notably an impressive victory over stablemate Found in the Yorkshire Oaks, and was a good second to Jack Hobbs (John Gosden, 3/1 Jt Fav) on her comeback in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan, UAE, on March 30.
The daughter of Galileo returned to the winners' enclosure in the G2 Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on May 7, defeating French raider One Foot In Heaven by five lengths.
Aidan O'Brien has won the Investec Coronation Cup seven times since 2005. His seven remaining entries also feature top-class five-year-olds Highland Reel (5/1) and Order Of St George (16/1), plus US Army Ranger (10/1) and Idaho (7/1), who were second and third respectively in last year's Investec Derby.
Godolphin's four contenders are headed by Jack Hobbs and G1 Coral-Eclipse hero Hawkbill (Charlie Appleby, 25/1). Prize Money (Saeed bin Suroor, 16/1), who got the better of Postponed in Dubai earlier this year, is also engaged.
Other high-profile names among the acceptors are last year's Prince Of Wales's Stakes winner My Dream Boat (Clive Cox, 20/1) and five-year-old mare Journey (John Gosden, 12/1), who made short work of her rivals in the G1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot in October.
There could be German representation courtesy of Dschingis Secret (Markus Klug, 50/1), a six-length winner in G2 company at Cologne earlier this month. The four-year-old was third in the 2016 G1 German Derby and ended the campaign with a seven-length success in the G3 Italian St Leger in October.
In-form sprinter El Astronaute (12/1 co second favourite with Unibet) is one of 46 confirmations for the feature handicap of the Investec Derby Festival, £100,000 Investec Corporate Banking 'Dash' Handicap over the world's fastest five furlongs.
El Astronaute (John Quinn, 8st 5lb) is two from two in five-furlong handicaps so far this year. The four-year-old followed up his short-head success at Newmarket's Craven Meeting with a front-running victory in a class two handicap at Chester on May 10.
He also has a 100 per cent record over the course and distance at Epsom Downs, having captured the Indigenous Handicap in September despite hanging across the track.
Trainer John Quinn said: "El Astronaute has come out of Chester in superb form and is now aiming for Epsom.
"He has got a four pound penalty after Chester but the handicapper has put him up four, so in effect he is fine.
"He is a horse we have always liked. We gelded him over the winter and I think that has made a difference. He is very a quick horse and these fast tracks suit him well.
"Silvestre de Sousa won on him at Epsom last year and said the hospitality marquee they had at the furlong pole took his eye off the ball. He was running as straight as a gun barrel until the next thing you know he cocked his draw and was hanging away from the marquee.
"We felt he really handled the track itself and, as long there isn't another marquee there on Derby Day, he should have a right chance!"
The betting is headed on 10/1 by another progressive four-year-old Vibrant Cords (Henry Candy, 8st 9lb), who was hampered in the race won by El Astronaute at Newmarket before a comfortable success in a five-furlong handicap at Goodwood on May 6.
Sharing 12/1 second-favouritism with El Astronaute are last year's winner Caspian Prince (Tony Coyle) and Edward Lewis (David O'Meara), an impressive winner over five furlongs on turf at Lingfield on May 12.