Racing: Entrepreneur in a risky business

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The Independent Online
When Entrepreneur reveals his noble frame at Epsom next month the big question will be by how far he wins the Derby. The mere act of succeeding has already been taken for granted, just as it was with Tenby in 1993 and Pennekamp two years ago. They lost badly.

Such is the maniacal desire among racing folk for the arrival of a new wonder horse that a display of great promise can shove any colt well up the road to greatness. Entrepreneur, it must be said, performed beautifully in collecting the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, but there are still plenty of hairpins and chicanes for him to negotiate before his name plate is nailed on to a box in the pantheon.

Part of the enthusiasm for Entrepreneur's prospects in the Blue Riband is the assumption that he will be an even more potent force over the 12 furlongs of Epsom. Family ties suggest he will be, but then my father and brother still have full heads of hair. Certainly, Michael Kinane, Saturday's winning rider, did not feel the sensation of a middle-distance horse beneath him at the weekend. "He doesn't ride like a typical mile and a half horse because he's got a lot of natural speed," the jockey said. "He's a classy individual and, like all the good horses I've ridden, he's got that different speed.

"Having said that, when he travels that well in a Guineas you've got to be happy he'll travel even better going a mile and a half. He's so well balanced that it would really surprise me if he fell on his head going round Tattenham Corner. The thing about Epsom is that horses don't act if they're not making ground easily and he'll do that."

Entrepreneur has also shown that he can be distracted. Bolting for the sunset is not the only thing that comes naturally to him. The euphemism is that he has been a little "coltish", an animal who could not wait for his athletic career to be over so he could sweep into the boudoirs of the breeding shed.

This followed a debut defeat when he was overcome by infatuation for the in-season filly in the next stall. "She took his mind off the job in hand," Michael Stoute, his trainer, said. "He followed her and she was swishing her tail and messing about."

Supporters will argue that Entrepreneur will benefit for the maturing effect of competing in his first big race. His price drifted on the day, not least because he made melancholy whinnying noises in the parade ring as if he was missing his mummy. In the paddock itself the dark stain of sweat was soon spreading out over his stomach, and by flagfall the discoloration had taken in his shoulders. This misled many.

Revoque, the favourite, was more composed, and everything went right for him until he had run 10 yards. He appears to be a vehicle who clicks up through the gears as swiftly as a combine harvester. "I wasn't where I wanted to be from three steps out of the gate," John Reid, his jockey, reported yesterday. "The idea was to be on top of the pace just getting a lead. I had to sit and suffer and hope they broke up. That seemed to take them an awful long time and by the time I got out I had a lot of work to do.

"I was building him up but it wasn't until we got into the Dip that he really started to run. If I'd got a position I'd have made Entrepreneur go."

The runner-up will now probably go for the Irish 2,000 Guineas, but there will be no temptation among Entrepeneur's connections to peek around the curtain by taking in the Dante Stakes or any other Derby trial. The colt will concern himself only with Classics and evidence of his true staying powers will not be available until 7 June.

The son of Sadler's Wells even managed to make Stoute an expansive character on Saturday. Normally when you bid the Newmarket trainer good morning, he thinks about his response for a while before managing to say "no comment". But on Saturday there was a chattiness and serenity about him following mission accomplished. His face, which usually twitches like a poacher's sack, just beamed.

There will also have been pleasure for Gordon Brown, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. He will be swift to point out that the 1997 2,000 Guineas was evidence that an Entrepreneur can flourish under New Labour.

DERBY (Epsom, 7 June) William Hill: evens (from 3-1) Entrepreneur, 8- 1 (from 10-1 Revoque), 14-1 Happy Valentine, Yorkshire, 16-1 Shaya, 20- 1 others. Ladbrokes: evens (from 4-1) Entrepreneur, 5-1 (from 14-1 Revoque), 16-1 Fahris, Shaya, Yorkshire, 20-1 others.

Yesterday's results, page 23