Racing: Lucido enters the Derby picture

Dunlop colt too fast for Daliapour
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THE EPSOM picture remained fuzzy after Lucido beat Daliapour, the favourite, in the Derby Trial here yesterday. The John Dunlop-trained winner is not among the entries for the big race 27 days hence and eyes now turn to York in the search for a three-year-old colt demonstrably ahead of the herd.

Three are jostling for position at the top of the bookmakers' lists at assorted prices between 7-1 and 10-1 and in varying permutations. Two, Beat All and Adair, run in the Dante Stakes on the Knavesmire on Wednesday; the third, Oath, trounced the opposition in the Dee Stakes at Chester three days ago.

Lucido was a neck in front of Oath when the pair made their seasonal debuts in a minor contest at Newbury and confirmed the merit of that performance with a defeat of Daliapour that was measured at a length and a quarter but was morally much further. Always travelling well, he ranged alongside the Luca Cumani candidate half-way down the straight but clearly considered there was no need for further exertion once he had passed his rival.

His rider, Richard Quinn, attested to the idle tendencies of the rangy bay son of Royal Academy, a half-brother to the Arundel yard's crack middle- distance filly Leggera. "You can add six lengths to that", he said.

Although Lucido's German owner-breeder Hildegard Focke has the option of paying a supplementary Derby entry fee of pounds 75,000 now her colt has revealed his talent, his victory in a trial has raised a perennial thorny question. Most horses are entered for the big race as yearlings at a fairly nominal fee, but Lucido was not.

"You wouldn't necessarily have thought he would get the trip, being by Royal Academy, and Leggera had not at that stage shown much," said Dunlop. "I know we can still enter, but pounds 75,000 is a significant amount to risk. If he is one of the best, it is a shame the Derby, the greatest race of the year, may be devalued by his not being in the field. It is a problem that has arisen before; perhaps a solution would be for the Epsom executive to have the power to issue a discretionary invitation, with the support of the handicapper, at a lesser fee."

Last year, the connections of the late-developing Leggera forked out a fat supplementary fee to enable her to take part in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and were rewarded with second place. Should they follow suit with Lucido at Epsom, his chance is rated at about 12-1.

At the start of play yesterday Daliapour was among the market leaders but is now one of the 20-1 shots. Cumani and the colt's owner, the Aga Khan, were not wholly despondent, though, particularly as Gerald Mosse put up 2lb overweight. The little Sadler's Wells colt cruised down the Lingfield hill as if on rails, went for home at the head of the straight and was staying on again at the line.

"It would have been more pleasing if he had won," said Cumani, who trained High-Rise, who won here and at Epsom last year, "but he will still go for the Derby. We may have lost the match but we have not yet lost the league. And we prefer to take the field as the underdog." Cumani can take heart over the fact that both Charlottown and Snow Knight were beaten here before taking the bigger prize.

This trial, over a course which mimics Epsom's switchback, is one of the more reliable pointers to the real thing. Before High-Rise, Kahyasi, Slip Anchor and Teenoso were three winners who went on to greater glory. Various fates await those who succeed here, however. Few will remember Norfolk Air, but the name of the obscure 1976 victor, banished to the Antipodes as a stallion, emerged again yesterday with appropriate timing as sire of Jaybee, the gelding who leads the field at Badminton Horse Trials.

One horse who will not be on parade on Derby day is Oath's stablemate Killer Instinct, the morning glory who finally got off the mark at Nottingham on Friday. His trainer Henry Cecil, speaking after his Oaks candidate Ramruna had consolidated her position at the head of the Classic market with a smooth victory in the Oaks Trial, said: "I still think he is a potential Group One horse, but he needs another race to educate him. Perhaps the Grand Prix de Paris will be his target."