Racing; Silver Patriarch rules

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The Independent Online
ENTREPRENEUR threw down the Derby gauntlet in the 2,000 Guineas eight days ago, and Silver Patriarch picked it up here yesterday. The tall grey colt emerged as a credible Epsom candidate with his seven lengths win in the Derby Trial and the man on top, Pat Eddery, immediately announced his intention of renewing acquaintanceship on the first Saturday in June.

Eddery launched Silver Patriarch on the long run for home from the foot of Lingfield's Tattenham Hill lookalike with three of his four rivals still in front of him, but staying is this colt's long suit and his raking stride soon had him on terms with his only serious market rival, Tanaasa, one of Entrepreneur's stablemates. A brief struggle ensued two furlongs out but the further they went the further the grey went away. He was eased at the line.

Dunlop was realistic about the task set, but delighted with the way Silver Patriarch completed it. "The form was probably not much - the only one backed to beat him had only won a Leicester maiden," he said, "but he did it in great style. And we know he gets the trip and that he is balanced enough to cope with the gradients. Entrepreneur is undoubtedly a high- class colt - and the Guineas is supposed to be the best Derby trial - but the questions over him are whether he stays and acts."

Silver Patriarch, who was confirming the promise of his close third to the French Derby candidate Voyagers Quest at Sandown last month, will go to Epsom without another run. He coped with yesterday's soft ground more than adequately, but both trainer and jockey feel that he will be as effective with less testing conditions underfoot.

Eddery, with three Derbys already under his belt, said: "He does stay, but he's not just a plodder. He'll pick up nicely if you ask him, and he'll give me a great ride at Epsom."

Bookmakers reacted to different degrees; Coral, who go 4-5 Entrepreneur, shortened Silver Patriarch to 6-1 second favourite, but Ladbrokes were less convinced at 9-1 after initially offering 12-1. The happiest pair in the unsaddling enclosure were Sarah and Peter Lakin, who raised yesterday's winner, owned and bred by Peter Winfield, from foalhood at their Surrey stud.

The colt's sire, Saddlers' Hall, won the Coronation Cup at Epsom, and Lakin, with a 66-1 Derby voucher keeping his pocket warm, said: "We never had any doubts he could gallop downhill, despite his size; we've watched him doing it quite happily up and down ours since the day he was born."

In the absence of any other candidates Crown Of Light became third-favourite for the Oaks after her workmanlike victory in the trial for the fillies' Classic. The daughter of Mtoto, with Olivier Peslier deputising for flu- stricken Frankie Dettori, ran her race out gamely to defeat Book at Bedtime by a length. Her trainer, Michael Stoute, said: "She was too keen when she was beaten in the Pretty Polly Stakes and the ones in front of her will not beat her again."

More Epsom clues may emerge today at Longchamp. The Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) and Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) will both be shown live on BBC2, along with a recording of the day's other Group One race, the Prix Lupin.

Disappointingly, very soft going has caused a dearth of runners, with only seven declared for each of the mile Classics, and the home side mustering only two fillies and four colts.

Daylami, 25-1 for the Derby, is reputedly the Aga Khan's best three-year- old colt and has proved he acts on soft ground, but there is huge confidence behind Yalaietanee, another representative of the Stoute stable, who beat the Guineas runner-up, Revoque, in the Greenham Stakes.

Though the French are outnumbered in the Pouliches, the cross-channel challenge looks weaker. Always Loyal will be bidding to provide Criquette Head with compensation for the defeat of Pas De Reponse at Newmarket a week ago, but her Chantilly stable has been beset by illness and the Oaks entry Mousse Glacee, a close second to Always Loyal in last month's Prix de la Grotte, may turn the tables.