Racing: Entrepreneur has time on his side

Timeform's clock expert gives Ian Davies his Derby verdict
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The Independent Online
Entrepreneur is the business. That is the view of Chris Wright, who compiles Timeform's much-respected time figures, which numerically measure a horse's ability in terms of the time it records, rather than by form-book study based on pounds-per-lengths. Wright's figures suggest the 2,000 Guineas winner will be as hard to beat in the Derby as his short price suggests.

"Entrepreneur recorded a time figure of 131 when he won the Guineas," Wright says. "That is the best performance on the clock by any Guineas winner since Zafonic in 1993.

"The runner-up, Revoque, let the form down when sixth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas but he has since been to found to have a runny nose. Desert Story, sixth to Entrepreneur, ran a decent race in the Dante Stakes at York, and ninth-placed Green Card performed creditably in the Heron Stakes at Kempton recently. The Guineas form is sound."

Wright continued: "Entrepreneur is bred to stay a mile and a half. Some people say he showed so much speed in the Guineas that he may not have the stamina for Epsom but, if Entrepreneur hadn't run in the Guineas and you just looked at his pedigree [he is a full brother by Sadler's Wells, to Dance A Dream and Sadler's Image, who both stayed well] you would say 'he is bred to stay a mile and a half', wouldn't you? I think he'll stay and I think he'll win."

The other Derby trials have failed to throw up a serious rival to Entrepreneur, Wright feels. He went on: "Benny The Dip returned a time figure of 115 when winning the Dante Stakes. That's a decent figure, but not startling and sixth-placed Apprehension confirmed this when running just a fair race behind Fahlik at Doncaster subsequently.

''Moreover, there has to be a question mark over whether Benny The Dip will stay the extra two furlongs. He certainly seems unlikely to improve for the step up in distance.

"Silver Patriarch was visually impressive when winning the Lingfield Derby Trial. He obviously stays well and acts on a switch-back track. However, his time figure of 98 was moderate and he goes to Epsom without ever having 'done a time'. Moreover, I suspect he may be best with give in the ground.''

Grapeshot is now on the doubtful list following an injury setback. He won the Predominate Stakes well enough, but clocked only 80, and is another who, even if able to run, would have to improve to have any chance.

Wright thinks the best each-way value may lie with Fahris - generally 14-1 - who has not run since clocking a figure of 119 when winning the Feilden Stakes over 1m1f at Newmarket in April, but is bred to stay well. The Fly looks a decent long-shot.

"The Fly clocked a figure of 110 when winning a rated handicap at York. He was just half a second slower than Reams Of Verse who was carrying 5lb less when winning the Musidora Stakes over the same course and distance the same day. The Fly is bred to stay and, at 33-1, has an each-way chance of making the frame."

But, if Entrepreneur is a tub-thumping certainty for the Derby, Wright is less convinced that Reams Of Verse will have her Oaks rivals off the bridle in the paddock.

"Reams Of Verse's figure of 111 in the Musidora is decent but not outstanding and, although she races as if a mile and a half will suit her, her pedigree isn't exactly packed with stamina. She's not the sort I'd want to take a short price about,'' he said.

Wright reckons the other Oaks trials have little to commend them either. He adds: "Crown Of Light [figure of 87] and Yashmak [90] failed to impress on the clock when winning at Lingfield and Newbury respectively."

TOP FIVE ON THE CLOCK

Entrepreneur 131

Fahris 119

Benny The Dip 115

The Fly 110

Musalsal 109

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