Racing: Gosden's Dip into history

The Derby: Horse named after a pickpocket steals the prize on the line as Entrepreneur finishes puzzling fourth
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The Independent Online
The longer time victory is in coming, the sweeter is is. And when Benny the Dip won a most thrilling 218th Derby here yesterday, it was a heady moment for both his trainer John Gosden and jockey Willie Ryan. The brown colt, the 11-1 third favourite, held off the flying finish of Silver Patriarch by the shortest of short-heads, with Romanov five lengths third and the allegedly unbeatable Entrepreneur only fourth.

Gosden, who had previously saddled two thirds and a runner-up in the great race, and Ryan, so often passed over on the big moment and drafted in only at the eleventh hour to take the mount, are two of racing's most personable characters and despite the defeat of the odds-on favourite were cheered to the echo when the result of the photo-finish was announced.

The 1997 Derby winner is named after a pickpocket character in Damon Runyon's Guys and Dolls stories, and stole the race when Ryan, seizing his chance for glory with both hands, dashed the colt past Crystal Hearted into the lead on the swing round Tattenham Corner.

Half-way up the straight he had poached a six-length lead, chased unavailingly by Fahris and Bold Demand. Then, out of the pack, came a grey arrow as Silver Patriarch, unable to go the early pace and last off the corner, began to eat ground under Pat Eddery's urgings. His astonishing surge - he made up six lengths in the final two furlongs - took him past the leader a stride after the line, but Benny The Dip had just enough in reserve and at the moment that counted the brown nose was still in front.

Romanov stayed on gallantly to take third, but a mile and a half round Epsom was a trip too far for Entrepreneur. The 2,000 Guineas winner, the 14th odds-on Derby favourite to be beaten, never showed with a real chance and only his class took him to fourth. He was followed in by The Fly, Fahris, Symonds Inn and Musalsal.

Benny The Dip, a son of 1982 Derby third Silver Hawk, is owned and was bred by 72-year-old Landon Knight, a newspaper publisher from Ohio. He met Gosden when the Englishman was training in America, and each year has sent him just the one horse, the produce of his now-dead broodmare Rascal Rascal. The Derby hero was the 1994 - and final - edition, and Gosden recalled: "Landon considered selling him as a yearling, but asked me to go and see him.

"I told him that he would undoubtedly make a lot of money at the sale, but that I absolutely adored him, and he agreed then that he would send him to me to be trained instead."

Wheelchair-bound Knight listened to his baby's triumph over the phone from his home. He said: "I couldn't hear anything after Tattenham Corner because of the crowd noise. But to have won the Derby from my only horse in England is just incredible."

Gosden was head-hunted nine years ago by Sheikh Mohammed to return to Britain, and had come close in the Derby previously with Muhtarram (fourth in 1992), Tamure and Presenting (second and third in 1995) and Shantou (third last year) from just six runners.

His much-respected late father "Towser" Gosden would have saddled 1966 Derby winner Charlottown but for having to relinquish his licence through illness. Gosden added: "I had to stand in the winner's enclosure then, and watch, and it was an empty feeling. This one is for my father, and puts the record straight."

For Ryan, too, it was a matter of keeping the Derby in the family, his grandfather Willie Stephenson having sent out Arctic Prince to win in 1951. He was only third choice to ride Benny The Dip, and right well he did it.

He was confirmed as the colt's rider after first choices Olivier Peslier and Frankie Dettori were committed to others -respectively Cloudings (10th) and Bold Demand (9th) - and sat on Benny The Dip's back for the first time only 48 hours before the race. Gosden said: "We had a few names in the hat but Willie had already ridden in three Derbys, so we chose someone who had been there and knocked around in the ring before."

Knocked around is right. Ryan, 32, was unseated from Foyer three years ago, the last time he rode in the Derby, though he finished fourth on Faraway Dancer on his debut ride in 1986. He said: "I was told to ride him positively as we thought he would get the trip. I started to stretch him going down the hill, but I was surprised he went so far clear. I wasn't surprised it was Pat who came at me as I knew his horse would stay, but the beauty of mine is that he dug so deep."

Those few vital inches denied Dunlop a third Derby and Eddery a fourth. The jockey said: "I got to Benny The Dip but he just found another stride. Mine is a big, galloping horse and I'm looking forward to the Irish Derby. That will be his track."

If available, Dettori will regain the ride on Benny The Dip for the rematch in the Irish Derby at the Curragh. Gosden said: "But the horse is Willie's ride if Lanfranco is unavailable. This is a mate, he understands that."

Benny The Dip has been nicknamed "Benny The Drip" because of his tendency to get in a muck sweat before his races, and yesterday came flying backwards out of the saddling boxes, forcing his attendants to complete his pre- race toilet in the open air. Gosden said: "He is a free sweater, but so are many people who do a stressful job, and he is a professional in his races."

Entrepreneur's defeat saved the bookmakers from a pounds 4 million payout, and was a puzzle for his connections. His disappointed trainer Michael Stoute inspected the colt's legs closely after the race, and said: "We'll know in the morning if there was a problem." Jockey Michael Kinane said: "He never really got going; I was never happy with him and he was struggling a long way from home. He just never felt like the horse he was that day at Newmarket."

Derby details

1. BENNY THE DIP W Ryan 11-1

2. Silver Patriarch Pat Eddery 6-1

3. Romanov J Reid 25-1.

13 ran. 4-6 fav Entrepreneur (4th). Sh-hd, 5. (Winner trained by J Gosden at Newmarket). Tote: pounds 8.90; pounds 2.30, pounds 2.00, pounds 4.30. DF: pounds 20.40. CSF: pounds 68.26. Trio: pounds 118.60. NR: Tanaasa. Time: Two minutes 35.77 seconds.