Racing: Ryan strikes lucky with Dip

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Those who gambled on Grapeshot getting the Derby distance were disappointed yesterday when the colt even failed to stay until the weekend. Just 24 hours after being declared a runner in the Classic, Luca Cumani's representative sustained a minor injury. "Grape-shot has suffered a slight setback and is now an an unlikely runner in the Derby," the Newmarket trainer revealed.

The probable absence of Goodwood's Predominate Stakes winner, who had been as low as 16-1, leaves Jason Weaver searching for a ride and punters investigating elsewhere for the each-way value. The initial targets with Ladbrokes yesterday were Fahris (12-1 from 14-1) and Cloudings (10-1 from 12-1).

The latter, who would be the first French winner since Empery was Lester Piggott's seventh in 1976, has done nothing to advertise his prospects recently apart from breathe regularly and lick his manger clean. The son of Sadler's Wells was still 25-1 on Sunday morning but then his stablemate at Andre Fabre's yard, Peintre Celebre, ran away with the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby). In third place in the Classic, beaten two and a half lengths, was Astarabad, who had been been further behind Cloudings on his previous start in the Prix Lupin.

Cloudings will be ridden by Olivier Peslier, who was aboard John Gosden's Benny The Dip when he won the Dante Stakes at York. As Frankie Dettori, the other jockey to partner Benny The Dip this season, is also committed elsewhere - to Godolphin's Bold Demand - Gosden has recently been on a jockey hunt. That quest ended yesterday at the door of Willie Ryan.

"We discussed all the options regarding jockeys with the owner, Landon Knight, last night and Willie was his choice," the Nemarket trainer said. "It's not an easy race in which to bring over an American and expect him to fly round because knowledge of Epsom is everything.

"Willie has ridden quite a lot for me and there were a couple of other guys available who've hardly ridden for me. We talked about Gary Hind and about Tony Garth, who rode him in his first two races. But Tony thought he might boil over before the horse.''

Ryan has finished fourth in a Derby (on Faraway Dancer in 1986), but last time he rode in the race he almost finished in hospital after being unseated from Foyer three years ago.

The bulletin from the Manton sickhouse yesterday was that both Romanov and Single Empire worked pleasingly and showed no sign of the malady that has taken some of their stablemates. "They worked well and they will both run," Peter Chapple-Hyam, their trainer, reported. "I will leave it up to John Reid as to which he rides but I imagine he'll go for Romanov.''

The Irishman was third on Romanov in the Irish 2,000 Guineas two Sundays ago, while David Harrison rode Single Empire when the partnership captured the Italian Derby on the same afternoon. "They are both outsiders," Chapple- Hyam conceded. "Romanov is stepping up in trip but I think he will get it. Single Empire is a good price considering Bold Demand, whom he beat conceding weight at Newmarket, is only 20-1. And he is a proven stayer.''

Also double-handed is Barry Hills, who, given his record in the Blue Riband, could saddle all but one of the field and still have to be satisfied with the runner-up slot. The Lambourn trainer saddles Musalsal and The Fly, and his son Michael is expected to take the ride on the former. That could leave The Fly post open to a man who has already ridden a Derby winner, Kahyasi's partner in 1988, Ray Cochrane.

THE DERBY (Epsom, 7 June): Ladbrokes: 4-5 Entrepreneur, 5-1 Silver Patriarch, 8-1 Benny The Dip, 10-1 Cloudings, 12-1 Fahris, 20-1 Bold Demand, 25-1 Symonds Inn, 33-1 Musalsal, Romanov & The Fly, 40-1 Single Empire, 50- 1 Crystal Hearted, Stowaway & Tanaasa, 100-1 Papua.