Racing: Entrepreneur still a risky proposition

Chris Corrigan hears opinions from across racing that the Derby favourite is beatable
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The Independent Online
Two men who have tasted Derby glory are warning that a strong gallop at Epsom on Saturday could spell defeat for the hot favourite Entrepreneur.

Geoff Lewis, rider of the 1971 victor, Mill Reef, now trains near the track and knows more than most how stamina-sapping Saturday's race will be.

''If Entrepreneur properly stays the distance he'll win, that's all there is to say about it. But there must be a doubt about him. And the fact is that non-stayers just don't win this race.

''From the mile-and-a-half start to the seven-furlong gate the horses are travelling uphill and believe me it's a very stiff climb. People need to see it to believe it.''

Lewis emphasised that he does not doubt that Entrepreneur - odds-on Derby favourite since winning the 2,000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket five weeks ago - has plenty of class. ''But El Gran Senor [odds-on when beaten into second place in 1984] was a great horse and he died away in Pat Eddery's hands in the run for the line,'' Lewis recalled.

''If they make it a real good gallop on Saturday it'll be very interesting. There would be six or seven other horses who could be fancied and if I was going to take an interest it would be with John Gosden's runner. This Benny The Dip is a tough little horse and I can see him running on well at the finish.''

Peter Walwyn, who trained the Eddery-ridden Grundy to win the 1975 Derby, said: ''As always, it's going to be a wonderful race and an open race. I don't think it's going to be a one-horse affair.

''To my mind, Entrepreneur is not certain to get the trip and the form of his Guineas win can be called into question. Seven of those who finished behind him that day have run since and they've all been beaten except Starborough.

''John Dunlop has a very good one in Silver Patriarch, who stays very well and has acted well at Lingfield, a similar course to Epsom. Also, he's going to be ridden by Pat Eddery - and he's worth any three jockeys around there!''

Bill Gredley, one of the country's leading racehorse owners, including the 1992 Oaks winner, User Friendly, commented: ''A lot of people say Entrepreneur is home and dry but in my opinion he will be need to be a very exceptional horse to win.

''I'm not saying he won't win because it could well be that he is exceptional, but he showed a lot of speed to take the Guineas and was coming back to Revoque [the runner-up] near the finish. On Saturday there's an extra half-mile to go.

''There are a lot of ordinary horses in Saturday's race, but if they go a strong pace I'd like to be on Silver Patriarch. This horse has not got a turn of foot like the favourite but he's got the stamina.''

Gredley had seven horses of his own originally entered in the Derby. He said he wished he had been able to run one of them just to act as a pacemaker for Silver Patriarch, owned by his friend Peter Winfield.

Stephen Little, a leading rails bookmaker who is usually prepared to take on the heavy hitters of the betting ring, believes that Entrepreneur is no longer an attractive proposition for the average punter. ''Some people backed him at fancy prices a long time ago and the value has gone.

''Having said that, a lot of the strongly fancied horses win this race. I've been laying bets on the Derby since 1976 and there aren't many times I've come out in front.''

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