Dr Massini on Epsom sick list

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The Independent Online
Dr Massini, the Derby favourite, was in need of treatment himself last night. The unbeaten colt hobbled out of his box at Michael Stoute's Newmarket yard yesterday morning, a scenario which should have seen groups of physicians, and bookmakers, running around bumping into each other. All, though, was relatively quiet.

"Dr Massini pulled out lame on his off fore this morning and the lameness is being investigated," Stoute said. "We will issue a further statement when we are in a position to do so.''

A further bulletin is expected from Freemason Lodge this afternoon, and it is not thought it will announce the termination of Dr Massini's Epsom campaign. Indeed, a further source from the yard suggested the colt was suffering from no more than the normal stiffness one might expect from an animal that performed on the marble surface of the Knavesmire last week.

Dr Massini's defeat of King Alex in the Glasgow Stakes at York last Thursday put the bookmakers in a slashing frenzy, but yesterday the same men just leant back in their swivel chairs and picked their teeth. Both Coral and William Hill left their Blue Riband prices as they were, while Ladbrokes attached the "with a run" proviso to Dr Massini's price of 4-1.

This theme of tranquillity was maintained by Dr Massini's owner, Michael Tabor, who could shed no further light on the extent of the damage but he delivered the philosophy that no-one was going to die because of the problem.

Such phlegmatism may have been easy to find as Tabor has both made exceedingly large amounts of money recently and he also has another entry in the race, the Andre Fabre-trained Grape Tree Road.

Also among the Derby entries is Portuguese Lil, whose job it will be to transport the first woman to ride in a Derby, Alex Greaves. The filly, however, is the bottom rated of the 151 animals still left in the race and connections will be hoping there is a mass defection at tommorrow's forfeit stage. Portuguese Lil herself can assist promotion into the final field of 30 (maximum) if she succeeds in the rather more prosaic Angel Fillies' Handicap at Beverley this afternoon.

A more likely runner, and winner, is Dushyantor, who also returned home from York with problems last week. Henry Cecil's colt has been suffering from a mild infection since his run in the Dante Stakes, but cantered yesterday and was described as being "100 per cent" (the same as the trainer's reading on the cliche meter).

Cecil's other Derby hope is Storm Trooper, whom several self-elected wiseacres of the racecourse think can still win the big one. This ignores the fact that the colt is an undercard fighter who has lost five of his seven contests. He keeps getting up and getting knocked down again, but some people obviously think Cecil is going to equip the colt with five horseshoes on Derby day and slip the odd one into his glove.

If Storm Trooper wins the Derby we can take garden shears to the form book, but the colt may get some sort of bolster today if his nearest Feilden Stakes victim, St Mawes, wins Goodwood's Predominate Stakes. One of his rivals here is Legal Right, but he comes from a Manton yard which may soon be cordoned off like a plague village. It may be a measure of how far the Predominate has dropped as a Derby trial that the best value option is Prize Giving (next best 3.40), who was not considered good enough for the Blue Riband.

The first televised race should go to Luca Cumani, who likes a winner at the bottom of Trundle Hill and is represented here by Kilvine (2.40), while Granny's Pet (3.10) is not only the sole runner with experience in his event but his debut was also a commendable one at Newbury last month. Pay Homage won the Anne Frances Stevens Memorial Handicap last year but he won't this time. SAMBA SHARPLY (nap 4.10) will.