Racing: Carson in control for Derby: Erhaab outstays Mister Baileys in the Dante Stakes to put his veteran rider in line for a fourth victory in the Blue Riband at Epsom

WITHOUT dreams, Willie Carson would be retired. Now into his sixth decade, the only spur that drives the Scotsman is that he may accumulate yet more Classic winners. This perseverance may now bring Carson a fourth Derby following the Dante Stakes victory of the new Epsom favourite, Erhaab, on the Knavesmire yesterday.

The vividness of the colt's 3 1/2 length success against the colourless backdrop of this season's Classic trials means that Erhaab is now the 7-2 Derby favourite from a morning 20-1.

As he dismounted, Carson accused John Dunlop, the trainer of his mount, of getting cocky in advance of the Derby. It was easy to see where he got it from.

'My horse is going to get a mile and a half, he acts on firm ground and he is one of the few horses I've seen this season with a turn of foot, and that is all-important at Epsom,' the jockey said.

'I don't visualise any problems with the course and he's got all the credentials to be a Derby winner. Take the price.'

For much of yesterday's race, however, Erhaab looked second best. Mister Baileys, the 2,000 Guineas winner, captivated before the field even set foot on the racecourse, brimming with vitality in the parade ring and collecting yet another best- turned-out award. But there were also worrying portents.

Mark Johnston's colt had the chunkiest look of the runners, and further evidence that speed rather than stamina will be his overriding quality was his snorting and nervousness in the preliminaries. When the stalls opened, Mister Baileys was still charged by exuberance, but after a furlong became a more compliant partner for Jason Weaver.

Turning for home, the northern horse was still travelling powerfully, but then came a sudden short-circuit. 'Three out there was only one horse in it and I was shouting at Jason on the television not to go too soon,' Johnston said. 'Jason felt the same as us that at three furlongs out there was nothing that could beat him. But a furlong later there was nothing left.'

The obvious assumption is that this journey and the even longer one of the Derby are beyond Mister Baileys, who finished third, but his trainer is determined to hunt out an alternative excuse.

'My first impression was that he didn't get home,' Johnston said. 'If we weren't talking Classics we'd have no doubts and be taking him straight back to a mile, but if you're dreaming of the Derby you're looking for any other reason why.

'I'll watch the replay of the race, but I won't be watching it as many times as I've seen the Guineas.'

Ian Balding, the trainer of the runner-up, Weigh Anchor, already has his excuses. He believes there is improvement both in his horse and his string as a whole. 'Ours aren't in tip- top form yet,' he said, 'but they should be by the beginning of June.' Handy, as the Derby is on the first of the month.

Dunlop, though, did not have to mount any defence. 'I wasn't amazed with the result because he's always been a nice horse and he's been longing for decent ground,' he said.

'He's a very strongly built horse but he's not awkward and I can't think that Epsom will worry him at all. His temperament seems good, he's learning all the time and he had a bit of racing as a two-year-old, which is always a plus. He knows what he's doing.'

Erhaab, in fact, ran six times as a juvenile, an unusually busy campaign for a prospective Derby horse, but whatever doubts that remained in the trainer's mind were blasted away by the course record time. 'You'd have to question his stamina purely on pedigree, but the way he won today, and the time suggest otherwise,' Dunlop said. 'This was the Derby trial of the year.'

THE DERBY (Epsom, 1 June): Coral: 7-2 Erhaab, 6-1 Broadway Flyer, 9-1 Bal Harbour, 10-1 Colonel Collins, 14-1 Weigh Anchor; Ladbrokes: 7-2 Erhaab, 7-1 Bal Harbour, Broadway Flyer & Weigh Anchor, 10-1 Colonel Collins, 14-1 State Performer; William Hill: 4-1 Erhaab, 6-1 Bal Harbour & Broadway Flyer, 8-1 Colonel Collins, 10- 1 Weigh Anchor, 14-1 Linney Head, 16-1 King's Theatre.

Results, page 43

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas