The older generation of punters still insists that the Predominate is the last of the major Derby trials, but not since Troy in 1979 has a Goodwood winner followed up at Epsom, and while four of today's six runner's still hold an entry in the greatest Classic, all are available at 33-1 or more this morning.
This is not to say that all Predominate winners are doomed to a career of under-achievement and - if they are lucky - retirement to a stud somewhere in eastern Europe. Pentire, successful two years ago, went on to win the King George, while Minster Son won the St Leger, but the race could be dubbed the Setback Stakes, since many of its competitors have suffered an interrupted start to the Classic campaign, and to win at Epsom after a hurried preparation is little short of impossible.
It is a fact which at least two of the trainers with fancied runners today seem to have accepted, with Luca Cumani, who will saddle Grapeshot, apparently convinced that "nothing will beat Entrepreneur", while John Gosden, whose Conon Falls won a maiden at Chester's May meeting, admitted after that race that the only Derby his horse might hope to run in would be in Germany or Italy. There is, however, one other colt in the Predominate field who could prove to be among the best of his generation, and for that reason alone, Indiscreet (3.40) deserves support today.
When he broke the juvenile course record in the Convivial Maiden Stakes at York - a race won previously by In The Groove, Owington and Danehill - on his course debut, Indiscreet guaranteed himself a prominent position in 2,000 Guineas betting through the winter.
The first Classic came too quickly for him, however, and following a scrambled victory against exposed horses at Beverley earlier this month, fickle ante-post punters have allowed him to drift out to 40-1 for the Derby. David Loder, his trainer, has not so much started the season in first gear as reverse, with just 28 runners and five winners, but Indiscreet at least now seems to have come to hand, and the son of St Jovite, the 1992 Irish Derby winner, must be expected to secure a place in the stalls at Epsom.
Horses with previous winning form over the rolling downland hills always deserve close inspection at Goodwood, and STAR TALENT (nap 4.10), revitalised by a close-season move to Ian Balding, is one to be on in the eight-furlong handicap.
The words "John Dunlop" after a horse's name are also unusually encouraging at this track, and his Zaima (next best 2.40) can beat some poorly handicapped rivals earlier in the afternoon.
A puzzled silence still shrouds the Newmarket headquarters of the Godolphin string, where tests continue in the hope of discovering why the irrepressible form of recent seasons has deserted their runners in 1997.
Bookmakers, though, have already decided that the Derby will come too soon for Happy Valentine, who was 8-1 favourite for the Classic just two months ago, and yesterday both William Hill and Coral removed him from their ante-post lists. In his place, the layers introduced Stowaway, winner of a maiden race at Newcastle last October, at 33-1. Even if he makes it to Epsom, his presence will carry the whiff of desperation, and it is hard to believe that the same odds or longer would not be available on the day.Reuse content