Racing: Italians bail out Fallon for Classics

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Just five days before Entrepreneur sets off as the hot favourite for the Derby, there was a timely lesson yesterday in the perils of relying on previous form. Kieren Fallon has plenty of that, following a succession of run-ins with the authorities in which he has generally come off worse, but yesterday he heard that the Italian turf authorities have agreed to defer a 10-day suspension imposed by the stewards in Rome nine days ago. That allows him to partner Symonds Inn in the Derby and, above all, Reams Of Verse, the hot favourite, in the Oaks.

Fallon's suspension will now start on 22 June, leaving his free not just for Epsom but for Royal Ascot too, where he is due to ride Sleepytime, the 1,000 Guineas winner, in the Coronation Stakes. "I am very pleased for him," Henry Cecil, trainer of both Reams Of Verse and Sleepytime, said. "Pat Eddery [who was standing by to ride Reams Of Verse] knows the horses but Kieren is first jockey and I am very glad that he will be able to ride them."

Fallon travelled to Italy yesterday to plead his case, a trip that will be thoroughly justified if Reams Of Verse wins on Friday, while Symonds Inn, for all that he is on offer at 33-1 for the Derby, will have as much chance as most of his rivals if, for whatever reason, Entrepreneur fails to run his race on Saturday. One potential obstacle for Michael Stoute's colt, a troubled run in a huge field, is no longer a threat, however, since he was one of just 16 declarations at yesterday's five-day stage.

Just one of those rivals is trained abroad, but there are still plenty of British punters willing to bet that the greatest Classic in the world will leave home soil for the first time in 13 years. Cloudings, whose trainer, Andre Fabre, won the French Derby for the first time two days ago, was 33-1 for the British original less than a week ago, but the convincing success of Peintre Celebre, and the belief that Cloudings may be a better prospect than his stablemate, have forced his price down to just 10-1 with the Tote, while Ladbrokes and Hills offer just two points more.

"He has brought the Derby market back to life," Rob Hartnett, of the Tote, said yesterday. "If weight of money is a good guide then Entrepreneur has a very serious challenger from across the water."

It should pay to remember, however, that the layers are desperate to balance their ante-post books, most of which include serious money for just one horse, and while Cloudings won the Group One Prix Lupin last month, he scrambled home from an unusually poor field that day and is not the most convincing of the opponents to the favourite.

Olivier Peslier, though, has sufficient belief in the colt's chance to abandon the ride on Benny The Dip, at present an 8-1 chance for the race, to ride Cloudings for Fabre and Sheikh Mohammed, who has yet to see his maroon and white silks lead the Derby field home. This leaves John Gosden, Benny The Dip's trainer, with a vacancy which, as yet, has not been filled, while riding arrangements are also still to be finalised for Barry Hills's two runners, The Fly and Musalsal. Michael Hills, successful 12 months ago on Shaamit, will have the pick of the pair, with Ray Cochrane taking the reins on his reject.

Most of the colts declared yesterday seem certain to take their place on Saturday - not surprisingly, since it has cost several thousand pounds to get them this far - but some doubts remain about Peter Chapple-Hyam's entries, Romanov and Single Empire. "I want to wait and see how they are," Chapple-Hyam said. "Romanov finished third in the Irish Guineas and could be suited by the step up in trip, but I want to see him work tomorrow. Single Empire had a hard race in winning the Italian Derby, but he is tough. No jockey arrangements have been made, although John Reid will ride whichever he wants."