After the efforts of the Ladbrokes chief executive, Chris Bell, to destroy interest in horserace betting with his claim that a race a day is fixed, the firm's PR department dug equally deep into their imaginations yesterday to part a few more punters from their cash in betting on the self same sport. Their desperate attempt to reinvigorate betting interest in the Derby, which has been becalmed in recent weeks, involved quoting odds on whether Frankie Dettori will ever manage to bag the premier Classic.
Snow Ridge, Dettori's mount, is 11-4 with Ladbrokes to win Saturday's race, but the Italian is 6-4 with the firm to never win the Blue Riband and 1-2 that he does manage to add the prize to his career haul.
Godolphin said yesterday that Dettori will leave it until the last moment before committing himself to Sundrop or Punctilious, the Dubai outfit's fillies which head the Oaks betting.
William Hill have cut American Post from 12-1 to 9-1 in anticipation that the colt will be declared a definite Derby runner today, when the Mick Channon-trained Gatwick will be put to the test to determine whether he is worth a £75,000 outlay to add his name to the field.
Privy Seal did best of the British raiders for the Derby Italiano in Rome yesterday, when the John Gosden-trained colt finished third to Groom Tesse. Putra Sas, trained by Paul Cole, was prominent until fading to sixth in the last half-mile, while Mick Quinlan's Mac Regal never got in a blow.
Luigi Camici, trainer of the winner, served a reminder that the Derby brand remains strong throughout the world and was exultant in victory. "This is dedicated to my country, the wonderful Sardinia," he said.
There was sad cause for a shake-up in the betting for Saturday's other Derby when Premier Fantasy, favourite for the Greyhound Derby, fractured his hock on the run to the first bend in the semi-final, knocking over Droopys Demaggio as he failed to make the turn. Rhincrew Seagal now heads the betting with the race sponsors, William Hill, at 5-2.
DERBY (Epsom, Saturday, 5 June): William Hill: 11-4 Yeats (from 5-2), 3-1 Snow Ridge, 7-2 North Light, 9-1 American Post (from 12-1), 10-1 Salford City, 12-1 Percussionist, 14-1 Let The Lion Roar, 16-1 Rule Of Law, 33-1 others. Ladbrokes: 5-2 Yeats, 11-4 Snow Ridge, 7-2 North Light, 10-1 American Post, 11-1 Salford City, 12-1 others.
OAKS (Epsom, Friday, 4 June): William Hill: 5-2 Sundrop, Punctilious, 9-2 Ouija Board, All Too Beautiful, 10-1 Baraka, 11-1 others.
GREYHOUND DERBY (Wimbledon, 5 June) William Hill: 5-2 Rhincrew Seagal, 11-4 Ballymac Kewell, 3-1 Tims Crow, 4-1 Droopys Scholes, 5-1 Fire Height Dan, 14-1 Big Freeze.
Racing in brief: Chin upsets Johnston
* The jockey Stanley Chin came under fire from Mark Johnston after finishing third on the trainer's Scott's View in a Group Two event in Baden-Baden yesterday. The favourite was unsuited by the slow pace, yet was beaten only a length by the winner, Touch Of Land. "I'm not happy with the ride. Why didn't Stanley go into the lead?" Johnston said.
* Saturday's launch of the television channel Racing UK went smoothly according to Rod Fabricius, one of the station's prime movers. Although free to air it is expected that a £20 subscription fee will eventually be introduced.