Racing: Greaves ready for carnage

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The Independent Online
Experience and expectation were out on Epsom Downs yesterday morning as Derby nearly-man Barry Hills supervised the work-outs of his Classic contenders Busy Flight and Prince Of My Heart, while Alex Greaves, who today becomes the first woman to ride in the race, had a dress-rehearsal on her mount, the 500-1 chance Portuguese Lil.

Hills, who has saddled four horses to finish second in the Derby, Rheingold, Hawaiian Sound, Glacial Storm and Blue Stag, watched his pair came round the course in single file, Busy Flight under Cash Asmussen and Prince Of My Heart with Brent Thomson aboard. Although available at 33-1 and 100-1 respectively, Hills nevertheless believes he has as good a chance as ever to break his Derby jinx.

"My horses are starting to show up now. Busy Flight ran in the Classic Trial at Sandown when my horses weren't right," said the trainer. "He has not run since, but I am very pleased with him. He is a horse who will definitely stay and has a very live chance, the best I've had for a long time. I rate him better than Blue Stag and Glacial Storm."

The occasion has yet to get the better of Greaves. "By 2pm tomorrow I will probably be a bag of nerves," she admitted. "I don't think I have sat down for two weeks because there has been so much interest.

"To me, this is a job. I do it every day. But to everyone else it is a big thing to become the first woman to ride in the biggest race in the world."

Portuguese Lil, a filly trained by Greaves's husband, David Nicholls, has yet to win a race but she defied all predictions to beat three when 10th in the 1,000 Guineas. She finished fifth on her most recent start, a modest handicap at Beverley, but will start tomorrow from the lucky stall 10, from which five of the last 10 Derby winners have emerged.

"Jockeys have warned me it will be carnage, the fastest race I will ever ride in, so I am prepared for the worst," Greaves said.

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