Racing: Track spin puts Shield on course for Classic

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The Independent Online

Gerard Butler's Derby contender, Shield, had his first taste of the Epsom track when he had a workout over the course yesterday morning.

The son of Barathea, who booked his place in the line-up for the Blue Riband with victory in the Sandown Classic Trial, was ridden by Eddie Ahern in a canter over nine furlongs, accompanied by the Oaks entry Inchberry, to familiarise himself with the unique Derby circuit.

"I was pleased," Butler said. "It was good to soft ground. The track was in very good condition, a great covering of grass and he handled it all very well. Eddie was very pleased.

"He's a very nice horse and he's come on for Sandown.We don't want extremes of going. It can be very soft, but it never is very fast ground at Epsom."

At Sandown Shield finished strongly after trouble in running to beat Inch Again by half a length to earn a top-priced quote of 33-1 for the Derby.

Butler's only previous runner in the Classic, Compton Admiral, finished sixth in 1998.