Racing: Placerville a poor portent for Tenby: Defeat in France for the Derby favourite's companion but White Muzzle silences the opposition in Italy for the Chapple-Hyam stable

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The Independent Online
A DISAPPOINTING start to Derby week for the Tenby team yesterday when his work-mate Placerville failed to make the frame at Longchamp. But the portents for another stable-companion, Commander In Chief, improved after Needle Gun, the horse he had struggled to beat at York last time came second in the Derby Italiano to the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained White Muzzle.

And to add to the complications facing Henry Cecil, Armiger, the third of his Derby contenders, is unlikely to find the soft ground he so badly needs if he is directed away from Epsom towards the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. Yesterday the going at Longchamp was as fast as anyone could recall in recent years and caused John Dunlop to withdraw his runner, Alhijaz. The surface is unlikely to be kinder up the road at Chantilly.

Certainly, if the ground were the only factor then Epsom would be the clear choice of venue for Armiger. More rain fell on the Surrey track at the weekend and the going remains good for the first mile of the Derby course and good to soft for the last four furlongs. Nevertheless, the feeling persists that Henry Cecil does not want to pit Armiger against Tenby, particularly over Epsom's undulations.

With William Hill and Ladbrokes offering 'non runner no bet' terms on Armiger, punters have nothing to lose by backing the horse and he is down to 3-1 (from 4-1) with Ladbrokes and 4-1 (from 9-2) with William Hill.

Barathea, whose suspect stamina would be further tested by the softened ground, has been pushed out to 12-1 from 10-1 by Ladbrokes, an extraordinary price when compared to the 6-1 offered against Fatherland winning. The latter was beaten by Barathea in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and is no more likely to get the trip as he is bred on very similar lines. However his trainer, Vincent O'Brien, is exuding rather more confidence than Luca Cumani in Barathea's corner.

Confidence in Tenby will not have increased after Placerville managed only fifth in the Prix Jean Prat. The colt followed the Derby favourite home in Wednesday's celebrated gallop on Newmarket Heath, but did not quite have the pace for yesterday's Group One race. Although only fifth he was beaten no more than one and a half lengths by Le Balafre, with the Richard Hannon-trained Revelation a place ahead.

If Tenby does come through the Derby successfully, he will find the winner of the Italian imitation waiting for him. White Muzzle, who picked up pounds 264,377 at the Capannelle, now heads for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Unbeaten this season, he won emphatically by five lengths under John Reid from the Clive Brittain-trained Needle Gun, with the next nearest of the British, Hannon's Right Win, fifth.

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