Horse racing: Anytime looks right for Cecil

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IS THERE a Shaamit among the nine horses supplemented yesterday for the Derby at a cost of pounds 8,000 each? The 1996 Epsom winner is the only horse to have gone on to success after being entered for the race at this stage since the entry system was amended in 1993. Even if the Derby winner does not come from this nine then at least it should prove instructive to find out which horses are deemed worthy of the outlay.

It could be a little confusing too. The connections of Xaar said on Tuesday that the 2,000 Guineas favourite would not be entered for the Derby but had a change of heart overnight and the outstanding juvenile of 1997 now figures among the nine.

When Xaar won October's Dewhurst Stakes, Andre Fabre, his trainer, said: "When you get a horse as good as this it makes you dream of winning the Derby." It was this that was cited yesterday by Abdullah's racing manager, Grant Pritchard-Gordon, for the changed opinion.

"Andre Fabre's comments after the Dewhurst are the reason for this entry - certainly not pedigree." The colt is by Zafonic, brilliant over a mile, out of a mare who never won beyond six furlongs.

Henry Cecil's entries could be more instructive. He has added the unbeaten Dr Fong and the unraced Anytime to the list and has high hopes for both colts this season.

"We didn't have Dr Fong in the yard when the original entries were made," the Newmarket trainer said. "But he looked all right last year didn't he? Only time will tell whether he is good enough for Epsom."

Anytime is a half-brother by Fairy King to the yard's Sussex Stakes winner Ali-Royal and to Sleepytime, who took the 1997 1,000 Guineas for the stable, and has been pleasing Cecil in his recent homework, prompting the Derby entry.

"He is a nice horse and has been working well which is why he has been entered, but it is early days yet. He will possibly make his debut in Guineas week."

There are three supplementary entries from Godolphin: Mudeer, short-headed by Saratoga Springs in the Racing Post Trophy, Altibr and Zaya.

Altibr, a full-brother to the five-furlong Group One winner Keen Hunter, easily won his only start last season and Zafonic's son Zaya was impressive when trotting up at Doncaster on his only appearance.

The other entries are the Clive Brittain-trained Greenlander, who won his first two starts but finished lame when fourth to Xaar in the Prix de la Salamandre, and Barry Hills's Alboostan, third to Second Empire in the Grand Criterium. Most speculatively, Nick Littmoden, who has never had a Derby runner, has entered Achilles, a comfortable winner at Doncaster last month.

Over the jumps, Tony McCoy, who won the opening race at Ascot yesterday on Better Offer, will be seeking further success at Portman Square today when his appeal against a four-day ban meted out by the Aintree stewards last Saturday will be considered by the disciplinary committee of the Jockey Club.

The champion jockey was suspended for using his whip with excessive force on Pridwell who beat Istabraq by a head in the Aintree Hurdle.