Racing: Epsom take no chances with twin perils

Over 250 guests had to abandon plans to attend a pre-Derby "Breakfast with the Stars" at Epsom yesterday when two cases of the highly infectious disease strangles were confirmed at a nearby livery yard. Yet there were trainers who turned up with their Classic hopefuls, adding substance to the official belief that the outbreak would not affect the Blue Riband, due to be run a week on Saturday.

Over 250 guests had to abandon plans to attend a pre-Derby "Breakfast with the Stars" at Epsom yesterday when two cases of the highly infectious disease strangles were confirmed at a nearby livery yard. Yet there were trainers who turned up with their Classic hopefuls, adding substance to the official belief that the outbreak would not affect the Blue Riband, due to be run a week on Saturday.

David Elsworth sent Salford City over the unique Surrey contours, while Marcus Tregoning galloped Elshadi and his Coronation Cup possible, High Accolade. John Gosden's Percussionist visited the track for the gentle stroll of a reconnaissance mission.

Andrew Cooper, the clerk of the course, remained confident that his Classic meeting was not under threat. "All the livery yards around here have shut up and everybody is taking things very seriously," he said. "But it has never been part of the routine of horses stabled there to come this way up the hill, or anywhere near the racecourse stables. In the meantime, all we can do is continue to liaise with the vet who is looking after the situation."

The gala breakfast was first organised and then cancelled on Tuesday by Epsom's managing director, Stephen Wallis. "We had no option but to make a decision early yesterday and we contacted all of the 250 guests we were expecting by the end of the afternoon," he said. "But, happy that every precaution had been taken to minimise any risk of the disease spreading, we were pleased that some trainers still wanted to come to Epsom to work their horses this morning."

Another peril to the smooth running of this year's Derby could yet materialise if a ballot of stalls handlers produces a vote in favour of industrial action when the result is announced today. Wallis indicated that course officials would resort to a flip start if Epsom finds itself in the front line.

The happiest of the visitors yesterday appeared to be Elsworth after the light movements of his Greenham Stakes winner, Salford City. Having survived his piece of work, the colt was cut to 14-1 (from 16-1) by William Hill. Salford City was ridden in his work by Johnny Murtagh and was accompanied by Massif Centrale (Dane O'Neill), who was among the Derby acceptors at the latest forfeit stage but is not a certain runner.

"It was most satisfactory," Elsworth said. "We have trained him since the Guineas so that we could run in Derby if we wanted to and it is looking increasingly likely that he will. He hasn't run since the Guineas and this outing can only have done him good. The owner [Michael Tabor] is quite keen to run and there is only one Derby."

There was a Derby-confirming workout elsewhere, when Pukka completed his morning assignment at Newmarket. Luca Cumani's colt won a Newbury handicap on his return earlier this month to warrant a quote of 66-1 from William Hill to give the Newmarket trainer his third Derby, following wins with Kahyasi in 1988 and High-Rise 10 years later.

"He worked fine this morning and we are happy with him," Sara Cumani, the trainer's wife, said. "He carries on towards the Derby providing he [Cumani] is happy with him after Saturday, when he'll have another spin."

Pukka would have gone to Epsom had the strangles outbreak not occurred, but was nevertheless presented with a Derby-style bend. "He went the wrong way round the Limekilns, which is what we did with Kahyasi," Mrs Cumani continued. "It was a shame not to go to Epsom, but we are happy with what we did.

"He's been round a bend at Lingfield. He's a very handy, well-balanced little horse, so Epsom shouldn't be a problem. He'll definitely stay and has an incredibly good temperament. Whether he's good enough we'll only know by running. There's only one Derby and it looks fairly open, so it's worth a shot."

Bull Run, a course winner in the Blue Riband Trial, will not be supplemented for the race after missing a scheduled piece of work at Newmarket. The grey, who has yet to run for Godolphin after being transferred from David Loder, did not appear for duty "because he was not moving correctly".

Derby (Epsom, 5 June): William Hill: 5-2 Yeats, 3-1 Snow Ridge, 7-2 North Light, 10-1 (with a run) Day Flight, 12-1 American Post, 14-1 Let The Lion Roar, Percussionist, Salford City, 16-1 Rule Of Law, 20-1 Ecomium, 33-1 Cairdeas, Gatwick (to be supplemented), Meath, 40-1 Book Of Kings, 66-1 others.

Coral: 9-4 Yeats, 3-1 Snow Ridge, 4-1 North Light, 10-1 American Post, 12-1 Salford City, 14-1 Rule Of Law, Let The Lion Roar, Percussionist, 16-1 Meath, 25-1 Cairdeas, 33-1 Book Of Kings, Duke Of Venice, Elshadi, Moscow Ballet, 50-1 Pukka, 66-1 others.

Ladbrokes: 9-4 Yeats, 11-4 Snow Ridge, 7-2 North Light, 12-1 American Post, Percussionist, Rule Of Law, 14-1 Salford City, 16-1 Let The Lion Roar, 40-1 Elshadi, Pukka, 100-1 others.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there