Racing: Erhaab hardens along with the Epsom going

AFTER drifting for a week on a tide of uncertainty, Erhaab finally settled in the Derby betting yesterday, despite disruption to his work schedule.

John Dunlop's Dante Stakes winner came back into favour with punters and displaced Broadway Flyer at the head of Ladbrokes' betting, but failed to complete his exercise routine with Dunlop's other Derby hope, Khamaseen, because of sodden ground at Arundel.

'They are both very well,' Dunlop said. 'I planned to give them their last bit of work this morning but we have had so much rain and the gallops are so wet that I postponed it until tomorrow.'

Erhaab, who was as low as 9-4 favourite for the Classic after his York victory, has been steadily pushed out by the bookmakers as the likelihood of soft ground at Epsom increased with each downpour. He was displaced as market leader by the Chester Vase winner Broadway Flyer, but has rejoined that colt at the top of William Hill's list at 4-1.

That firm's representative, David Hood, believes Dunlop's colt will find further support. 'Fifty per cent of the money we take on the Derby is on the day and I predict that Erhaab will start 3-1 or shorter.'

Major Michael Webster, Epsom's clerk of the course, also provided encouragement for Erhaab's supporters. 'The going is now good to soft but we have had a dry 24 hours and the forecast is for dry weather until Wednesday.'

At yesterday's declaration stage, 26 horses stood their ground, with Bal Harbour, King Of Naples, Mohaajir, Opera Score, Overbury, Rainbow Heights, State Performer and Time Star defecting.

Rainbow Heights and Time Star are heading instead for tomorrow's Derby Italiano at the Capannelle, a race which could provide several clues for next Wednesday. Time Star finished just behind Epsom contenders Linney Head and Khamaseen at Sandown in April; he will be opposed by Moonax, who was five lengths second to Broadway Flyer at Chester, and by Overbury, who was beaten a short head by Foyer at York last time.

DERBY DECLARATIONS: Broadway Flyer, Chickawicka, Chocolat De Meguro, Colonel Collins, Colonel Colt, Darkwood Bay, Erhaab, Foyer, Golden Ball, Ionio, Jabaroot, Just Happy, Khamaseen, King's Theatre, Linney Head, Mister Baileys, Party Season, Pencader, Plato's Republic, Star Selection, Strategic Choice, Sunshack, The Flying Phantom, Waiting, Weigh Anchor, Wishing.

BETTING: Coral: 7-2 Broadway Flyer, 4-1 Erhaab, 8-1 Colonel Collins & Linney Head, 9-1 Weigh Anchor, 12-1 King's Theatre, 14-1 Sunshack, 20-1 others.