Cause for cheer in Dr's diagnosis

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The Independent Online
The old bookmaking foxes on the Epsom rails bet on what is going to finish first and last in the Derby, but they were struggling to determine who would be their market leader in both books last night.

Portuguese Lil advertised her prospects of capturing the snails' contest when she was down the field in yesterday's Angel Handicap at Beverley, but this may have been a Pyrrhic defeat. Portuguese Lil, who is scheduled to make Alex Greaves the first woman rider in the Blue Riband, is now certain to be balloted out of the race if more than 30 runners are declared. Over 140 remain going into today's forfeit stage.

At the other end of proceedings, Dr Massini's box had the curtains pulled round it all day as vets assessed the extent of the foreleg injury which was discovered on Monday. Last night the medics emerged with reports of a clear scan and the belief that Michael Stoute's colt would be one of those streaming around Tattenham Corner on 8 June.

Stoute was as easy to locate as Bonnie Prince Charlie on a misty Scottish moor, but Dr Massini's owner, Michael Tabor, had reassurance for those who backed his horse last week at 33-1. "I understand he is no longer lame and now we're guardedly optimistic," he said. "But I don't want to say he's definitely going to run because he's a horse who has had his problems."

Dr Massini has been limited to two track performances but has now advertised his attributes at Kempton and, last week, in the Glasgow Stakes at York.

He was ridden that day by Michael Kinane, for whom last night's news must have been of the greatest relief. It must be said the Irishman should have been spared a day of national mourning even if his intended mount had been invalided out. There is no rider alive collecting prizes with his frequency and the Irishman tossed another bauble into his treasure chest when he rode Don Micheletto to success in yesterday's Predominate Stakes at Goodwood.

The colt provided yet another advertisement for Godolphin's greenhouse effect. He had performed just 10 days ago when was outpaced and eighth in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) at Longchamp, but was turned out here with the sort of polished coat which suggested the Newmarket shoe-shine boy had made a marvellous effort of his most demanding project.

In the race itself the field was tugged into the straight by Side Note, but, in behind, Prize Giving, who was adjudged the best turned out, looked to be going the best turning in. Geoff Wragg's colt has the head carriage of a horse churning up an equine pool, but this awkward posture does not compromise him. Prize Giving's four white socks quickly scampered their way to the front and over to the rails before Don Micheletto entered the equation. Then the bay swept past, his tail snapping down repeatedly as if in the hand of an African tribesman trying to keep insects off his meal. At the line there was half a length to spare.

The twist in the result was that Don Micheletto had been purchased last year from the Oppenheimers, the owners of the runner-up.

The winner is neither in Godolphin's vanguard nor a horse expected to last beyond yesterday's 10-furlong journey. "He's not in a Derby of any description," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said. "The door is open to the French Derby but that comes quite soon and he's run quickly here after Longchamp.

"He's a horse with a lot of potential and he's had very little racing experience. But he worked nicely through the winter and he'll continue to improve through the season."

Back in third and ostensibly out of Epsom consideration was John Dunlop's St Mawes. However, the chestnut will contest the Blue Riband as Lord Swaythling thinks it's about time he had a Derby runner after 41 years as an owner.

Whether Peter Chapple-Hyam will have a representative is uncertain. Manton started the season with a cluster of animals thought capable of running in the Classic, but their fortunes bring reminder of a sentiment of Noel Murless. "If you think you've got a few Derby horses then you haven't got a Derby horse at all," he once said.

Chapple-Hyam's Legal Right was an uninspiring fourth in the Predominate and his best prospects now seem to lie with the wounded Nash House. There is no update on his condition either and Chapple-Hyam revealed he would not know if the chestnut's infection had cleared up until the start of next week at the earliest.