Derby doubt over Dr Massini

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The Independent Online
The doctor was unwell yesterday and so were a lot of punters. Dr Massini, the ante-post favourite for Saturday's Derby at Epsom, has suffered a recurrence of a foot injury and is "highly likely" to miss the Classic.

Michael Stoute's colt did not race as a juvenile because of niggling problems and was lame again immediately after propelling himself to Epsom favouritism in the Glasgow Stakes at York last month.

Stoute has warned in the interim that the horse has a penchant for finding trouble. Seldom can he have found less pleasure in the justification he discovered yesterday in a box at Newmarket's Freemason Lodge. "Dr Massini is lame on his near-fore foot," the trainer said. "It is highly unlikely that he will be able to run in the Derby but I will issue a further statement tomorrow morning."

Stoute definitely lost a jockey yesterday when Ray Cochrane, who was due to partner his second string, Double Leaf, returned from a riding accident at Taby in Sweden with a suspected broken collar bone. Dr Massini's intended jockey, Michael Kinane, may switch to Storm Trooper, whose trainer, Henry Cecil, now has the new Derby favourite in Dushyantor.

The more heartening news came form another Newmarket trainer, Mark Tompkins, who reported that his 2,000 Guineas runner-up, Even Top, was recovering from the poisoned foot which flared up on Sunday. "He had a canter this morning and his foot is in as good a condition as could be expected," Tompkins said. "The vet is delighted with the way it's healed and I'm delighted it's getting better by the minute, and he will have his final piece of light exercise tomorrow morning."

Even if Even Top runs it looks like being another good Derby for the bookmakers. Mons, Silver Dome and Sacho were all backed for the Derby last season, but seem to have given away their talent some time over Christmas, while Nash House, Mark Of Esteem, Mick's Love, King Alex and Air Quest have all been written down on betting slips for Epsom but will not be on Saturday's racecard.