Racing: Murtagh waits on appeal as Derby field shrinks

To its organisers it remains the most significant race in the world, but when the 226th Derby occurs on Saturday it will certainly not be the most populated Blue Riband.

To its organisers it remains the most significant race in the world, but when the 226th Derby occurs on Saturday it will certainly not be the most populated Blue Riband.

There were no supplementaries at yesterday's declaration stage and just 15 runners remain. The actual field will not be that crowded. The modern era low-runner mark of 12 - which happened both in 2001 and the following year, when Galileo and High Chaparral were successful - is under threat.

There were few shocks as the big two, Motivator and Dubawi, were left in. Both their camps have been making plaintive noises about the state of the ground on the Surrey Downs and will not have been displeased when Andrew Cooper, the clerk of the course, recommenced watering yesterday. The ground is currently good, good to firm in places, which is where Cooper would like to be at 4.20 on Saturday.

It is a big day tomorrow for Team Motivator as Michael Bell, the colt's trainer, will walk the track at about the same time as Johnny Murtagh, Motivator's partner in victory in York's Dante Stakes, tries to wriggle out of a riding ban at the Jockey Club. Darryll Holland is on stand-by.

In addition to Dubawi, Godolphin have declared Shamardal, but that is only a precaution. The latter's principal target remains Sunday's Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly. The numbers game on Saturday will inevitably be won by Aidan O'Brien. They have been playing Ten Little Indians at Ballydoyle recently, but four colts still remain for the premier Classic in the shape of Oratorio, Gypsy King, Grand Central and Almighty. Whichever Kieren Fallon selects will automatically become a shortened third favourite.

After a spluttering start to their campaign, Godolphin appear to be coming round. The Dubai team's resurgence continued yesterday when Fight Your Corner was the 20-1 winner of the most renowned trial for the Ascot Gold Cup, the Henry II Stakes at Sandown. The last two Sandown winners have gone on to success in the staying championship, Godolphin's own Papineau following on from Mr Dinos. Papineau is now second favourite behind France's Westerner for the rerouted race at York next month, while Fight Your Corner is still available at 14-1.

Kerrin McEvoy's mount had a gentle run round for much of the race yesterday and only joined in as others began to fall back gasping around him. After that Fight Your Corner slogged away from a field which included his better fancied stablemate, Duke Of Venice.

"Duke Of Venice, our other horse, was disappointing today, but Kerrin McEvoy was asked to look after the winner and he got him nice and relaxed," Saeed Bin Suroor, the trainer, said. "When everyone died in front, he did as he was asked and we will see how we get on with him, see how he comes out of the race, but the Gold Cup, over four furlongs more, is a possibility. " With a Derby present looming there is also a reminder of a Blue Riband past this evening, when North Light, the Epsom victor 12 months ago, reappears on the track for Sandown's Brigadier Gerard Stakes. Among the opposition is Godolphin's Punctilious and Mubtaker.

It will be Mubtaker's first outing over 10 furlongs for some time, a first run since he finished fourth in the Canadian International last October, but Marcus Tregoning reports him to remain in good heart.

"He is in very good form and seems fresh and well," the trainer said yesterday. "He is running over a mile and a quarter because he tends to run very fresh first time out, but he is very effective over this trip - he won over it a couple of years ago and he has plenty of pace." On the same card, the Prix de l'Abbaye winner Var takes in the Temple Stakes at what is the beginning of a busy period at the office. "He has done all of the work I have wanted him to do as he will have three very close races coming up," Clive Brittain, the trainer, said.

"It will be the start of a three-race series for him which begins at Sandown and then goes on to York for the King's Stand and finishes in the Golden Jubilee at the same meeting. If there is any ring-rustiness in him he will be get rid of it at Sandown."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
News
people
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star