Racing: Cecil aims to conquer Cape Verdi

AS BOTH punters and the connections of possible rivals yesterday digested the news that Cape Verdi will run in the Derby a week tomorrow, there was little obvious sign that the 1,000 Guineas winner will persuade many trainers that their best three-year-old colt should find an alternative engagement. The latest declaration stage for the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly on Sunday, an obvious second choice, passed without any significant additions from British yards, and the most significant development was the removal of Sadian from the French race. The colt is now expected to represent Henry Cecil at Epsom instead.

In some seasons, the news that Cecil had decided on his Derby runner would set off a run at the betting shops, but since Sadian appeared to reveal some rather obvious limitations when second to High-Rise in the Lingfield Derby Trial, odds of 33-1 and more are still freely available. It is encouraging, however, that Cecil is willing to send the colt to Epsom, since with not just Cape Verdi, but also King Of Kings, the 2,000 Guineas winner, and his stablemate Second Empire also on course for the Derby, some had feared that the race might cut up to no more than a dozen runners.

Other trainers too were finalising their Classic plans yesterday, with Barry Hills booking Darryl Holland to ride The Glow-Worm in the Derby. Hills has famously yet to win the Derby despite filling any number of places in the frame, and The Glow-Worm is rated no better than a 40-1 chance to give him his first success in eight days' time. His backers are not entirely without encouragement, however, since The Glow-Worm will be the only runner in the Derby field with a win over course and distance to his credit. Holland, meanwhile, steered the 150-1 chance Blues Traveller into third place for Hills five years ago.

Hills will also have a runner in the French Derby, where he will be represented by Prolix. Three more British-based colts are also expected to run at Chantilly, with John Dunlop's Rabah being joined by Mudeer and Central Park, one of last season's best juveniles, both of whom run in the royal blue of Godolphin.

Dunlop's best three-year-old, however, is Haami, who finished fifth behind King Of Kings in the 2,000 Guineas and reportedly worked well at Goodwood on Wednesday evening as part of his final preparations for the Derby. Accompanied by Silver Patriarch, last year's St Leger winner, and Right Wing, Haami covered about a mile and a quarter of the Sussex track.

"It was a nice bit of work," Dunlop said. "They went a good gallop, and Haami came up on the outside and quickened up really well. What was nice was that Haami was settled and relaxed."

Haami could form 50 per cent of Hamdan al Maktoum's challenge for a third Derby, since Alec Stewart's Mutamam remains a possible runner at Epsom. The Predominate Stakes runner-up had a gentle workout yesterday morning, and a decision on whether he will run in the Classic will be taken before the next declaration stage tomorrow morning.

Ian Balding is far from amused by a newspaper report linking Pat Eddery to the Derby ride on Border Arrow. The trainer insisted that Ray Cochrane, who found trouble in running when he partnered Border Arrow in the Dante Stakes at York, will ride him again in the Classic. Eddery, meanwhile, is still without a Derby booking.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

NAP: Colway Ritz

(Ayr 3.50)

NB: Tasik Chini

(Bath 7.25)

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