THE first Saturday in June is the annual date for the premier colts' classic, the Vodafone Derby.
Run over one and a half miles across the undulations and adverse cambers that make up Epsom Downs, the race represents a true test of balance, speed and stamina for the thoroughbred race-horse.
With total prize money amounting to £1.25m, the winner will represent the best of the current crop of three-year-olds.
Following the conclusion of the recognised Derby trials the betting market opted to make the French entry Visindar the favourite despite his less than exceptional performance when winning last time out at Saint-Cloud.
Linda's Lad travelled over from France to win the totesport.com Derby Trial at Lingfield Park on May 13 and will be partnered by jockey Frankie Dettori who is yet to ride a Derby winner.
After an interrupted preparation since finishing second behind George Washington in the 2000 Guineas last month, Sir Percy reportedly worked well last weekend.
Papal Bull, the three-quarters of a length winner of the MBNA Europe Bank Chester Vase, was supplemented for the race on Monday and travels from the in-form Sir Michael Stoute yard.
By Montjeu, the colt warrants respect.
In recent years the Group 2 Dante Stakes run at York has proved the most reliable Derby trial, won by Motivator last year and North Flight in 2004 as a stepping stone to success at Epsom.
Last month, on soft ground, Septimus stayed every yard of the one mile two furlong trip and won unchallenged by eight-lengths.
The ground at Epsom is likely to have more give in it than for many years and trainer Aidan O'Brien will have the colt spot on to follow the path carved out by Galileo and High Chaparral to collect a third Derby for the powerful Ballydoyle yard.
This afternoon the three-year-old fillies go to post for the Group One Vodafone Oaks with a total prize fund of £375,000. Speciosa currently available with Corbetts Bookmakers at 13-2, is the filly who has won the hearts of many racegoers.
Trainer Pam Sly, better known in the national hunt field, prepared the filly to out gallop her rivals and land the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month when sent off at 10-1.
The strength of the Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks run at Chester on the opening day of the May meeting will be put to the test by Time On who was also supplemented for this race last weekend.
The Sadler's Wells filly, trained by John Dunlop, set the pace and quickened readily to win by three lengths. A petite, attractive filly she handled the bends on the Roodee and is sure to have come on since Chester.
She looks value for money at 15-2 with Corbetts to frank this form with another victory.