Dettori's Derby ride is Tamure

RACING: Jockey arrangements dominate debate and betting on the premier Classic
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The Independent Online
When the question changes from what's going to run to who will be steering, the countdown to the Derby has entered its final phase. They were whispering about people, not horses, here yesterday, and by the evening the name of Lanfranco Dettori, the champion jockey, had been inked in against Tamure, while in the bookies' cards at least, Pat Eddery had ousted Willie Ryan from the increasingly fancied ride on Sebastian.

The latter snippet may turn out to be a typical pre-Derby fairytale, useful only to the bookmakers who welcomed an opportunity to cut Sebastian once again (Ladbrokes, at 7-1 from 10-1, were typical). Eddery, who was riding at Doncaster, denied any knowledge of the alleged booking for Henry Cecil's colt, as did Leslie Harrison, racing manager to Lord Howard de Walden, Sebastian's owner. Yet no one could deny that the layers are generally one step ahead in such matters, and it would seem that, at the very least, Ryan's place on Sebastian is in doubt.

It feels like a throwback to the days when the question "What will Lester ride?" was a polite way of asking "who will he jock off?". If Eddery were to replace Ryan, it would be an astonishing snub for Cecil's stable jockey, not least because, for all Eddery's familiarity with Epsom, Ryan is considerably more familiar with Sebastian.

"I don't know where these rumours started," Harrison said, before adding, somewhat teasingly, "a decision will be made when Lord Howard returns to Britain." If there is indeed any question of a choice, the smart one for all concerned would surely be to stick with Ryan.

While the bookies and backers were speculating about Sebastian, Dettori's decision to partner Tamure, who narrowly defeated Cecil's colt at Newmarket recently, passed almost unnoticed (foolhardy though it is, punters often prefer to bet on rumour rather than fact). The champion's decision is significant none the less, not least because his possible mounts included Vettori, the French 2,000 Guineas winner, and Presenting, who like Tamure is trained by John Gosden.

Presenting's participation, either at Epsom or in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday, depends entirely on the ground, Gosden reiterated at Sandown yesterday. Presenting needs it fast, but after riding work at Chantilly yesterday morning, Dettori reported that the going in France is on the soft side of good. At Epsom, meanwhile, the management continues to pour on water at such a rate that the rest of Surrey may soon face a hosepipe ban (how idiotic they will look if Celtic Swing, the object of their efforts, runs at Chantilly anyway), so Presenting may not get a run in either.

Even more unlikely to appear at Epsom - in need of a minor miracle, in fact - is Traikey, Jack Banks's outsider. Traikey was a good third to Don Corleone at Doncaster three days ago when running for only the second time in his life, but later proved to have acquired a leg injury in the process. Banks will study the X-rays before making a decision, but the most likely prescription is several weeks' rest.

There will be no such respite for Mind Games, winner of the Temple Stakes yesterday, whose itinerary was smartly reeled off afterwards by Jack Berry, his trainer. "The King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Nunthorpe at York and then hopefully the Prix de l'Abbaye," Berry said, before asserting with some confidence that Mind Games is the best sprinter around.

With three wins for Mind Games already this year, and each easier than the last despite a steady rise in class, it is difficult to argue. It seems a shame, though, that Berry's colt may not meet Lake Coniston, who is more of a six-furlong specialist.

At the other extreme, the Sandown crowd may have seen another future champion when Double Trigger put six lengths between himself and a strong field in the Henry II Stakes. Beaten by Moonax over 14 furlongs at York two weeks ago, Double Trigger will now re-oppose last year's St Leger winner in the Gold Cup at Ascot, over a much more suitable 20 furlongs.

"They'll be playing us at our own game next time," Mark Johnston, Double Trigger's trainer, said. "I don't think there's any horse who stays better than this one. It's going to be a hell of a good Gold Cup."