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French raider Epicuris has his sights set firmly on the Derby with the field for the Epsom Classic taking shape.

Dual 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles and classy filly Found have been ruled out of Saturday’s race but pre-post favourite Golden Horn has been put in as a late entry as has Irish colt Success Days, leaving 15 contenders.

Among them is the Criquette Head-Maarek-trained Epicuris, whose route to the blue riband has had one or two twists.

Unbeaten as a juvenile when his wins included the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 10 furlongs (2000m), he was successful on his return to action at Longchamp in early April.

He was to have his lead-up to the French Derby in the Prix Greffulhe last month, but refused to enter the stalls.

While he has since passed a barrier test, he will only enter them with the assistance of Nicolas Blondeau, a horse behavioural expert who also followed Goldikova all over the world.

French rules prevent anyone other than the official handlers assisting at the start, so Head-Maarek decided not to risk Epicuris in the Prix du Jockey Club and switched her sights to Epsom instead.

“He worked well this morning, I was very happy with him,” Head-Maarek said.

“He seems fine after it so he’s going to run at Epsom. Thierry Thulliez, his usual jockey, will ride him.”

Gleneagles and Found will instead head directly to Royal Ascot.

It had been expected that Gleneagles would at least be left in at the confirmation stage for Epsom, but owners Coolmore decided to keep him to a mile (1600m) in the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal fixture.

Found, a Group One winner last season, will now be prepared for the Coronation Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien is now likely to be represented by Giovanni Canaletto, Hans Holbein and Kilimanjaro.

As well as Golden Horn, John Gosden will run Jack Hobbs, bought by Godolphin since his second-placed finish in the Dante at York.

Aside from Epicuris, Andrew Balding’s Elm Park is the only previous Group One winner in the field.

 
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