Racing: The colours of distinction worn by the Blue Riband contenders

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The Independent Online
ACHARNE

Forms 50 per cent of possibly the most hopeless two-pronged assault ever made on a British Classic, and while the staff back at Clive Brittain's stable may have a few side bets on which of their two runners will finish ahead of the other, no-one else need show the slightest interest. The winner of just one of his eight starts, he will lead the field past the winning post this afternoon, but only in the pre-race parade. Odds: 250- 1

CLEVER CLICHE

Almost Derby favourite after winning at Nottingham in April, but let his supporters down when fourth to Mick's Love at Newmarket. Anyone who backed him in the spring will be delighted just to be getting a run for their money, and probably had to pick through the bin in search of their slip when Clever Cliche was declared to run. The transition from investment to worthless scrap of paper was only postponed. Odds: 66-1

EVEN TOP

Came within a nostril of winning the 2,000 Guineas at 40-1 and should relish today's extra four furlongs, but a record of two victories from six outings provides a more realistic picture of his chance. Trained by Yorkshire-born Mark Tompkins, and his colt is blessed with the stubborn, no-nonsense attitude you associate with the White Rose. Determination alone is rarely sufficient at Epsom, though. Odds: 11-2

MYSTIC KNIGHT

Roger Charlton has been telling people for weeks that he quietly fancies his Lingfield Derby Trial winner for today's race, and his price has contracted accordingly from 40-1. Since Charlton's previous Derby record amounts to one runner and one winner - Quest For Fame in 1990 - his is an opinion to be respected, but the bare form of his colt's Lingfield victory is hardly inspiring. Top six finish at best. Odds: 14-1

SPARTAN HEARTBEAT

Politicians searching for the "feelgood factor" could do worse than visit Clive Brittain, whose well of optimism could kick-start the economy by itself. Brittain's willingness to pit no-hopers against the best almost returned a spectacular dividend when Terimon, at 500-1, finished second to Nashwan here in 1989, but he had winning form while Spartan Heartbeat has yet to do better than third in five modest races. Odds: 200-1

ALHAARTH

Was 5-1 for today's race all of eight months ago, which puts the current odds about 1995's champion two-year-old into perspective. If the bookies had not accumulated substantial liabilities during the winter, he would be twice the price now, based on his performances this season. Two runs, two defeats is not the record of a Classic winner, even if he did race on the slower ground in the 2,000 Guineas. Odds: 5-1

DOUBLE LEAF

Uninspiring form figures do not tell the full story, for while he was soundly beaten behind Glory Of Dancer at Sandown, he would probably have overcome the same opponent at York had he not encountered the sort of traffic problems normally associated with Hyde Park Corner. The slow early pace that day renders the form suspect but he should appreciate the step up in trip and reward each-way backers. Odds: 10-1

GLORY OF DANCER

Splendidly consistent and is yet to finish outside the first two in six starts. One of only two runners in today's race with Group One success to his credit (Alhaarth is the other), and while some doubt his stamina, he was running on strongly up the hill at the end of Sandown's 10 furlong Classic Trial. Olivier Peslier is riding in his first Derby, but has a wealth of experience and Paul Kelleway's colt will go close. Odds: 5-1

PORTUGUESE LIL

It is a sorry reflection of how far racing lags behind the rest of society that Alex Greaves's role in the race may be the most significant for a woman since the tragic intervention of the suffragette Emily Davison, who was killed in bringing down the King's horse at Tattenham Corner in 1913. Greaves becomes the first woman to ride in the race on this poor handicapper who does not belong in the field. Odds: 500-1

ST MAWES

It might be more appropriate if he were named after St Jude, the patron of hopeless causes. He has won just once in five outings, and disturbingly, appeared ill at ease around Chester's turns when second in the Vase. Also trounced by Storm Trooper, and since the latter appears more suited to today's track and trip, St Mawes's chance of reversing the form is so thin it could pursue a lucrative career on the catwalk. Odds: 20-1

BUSY FLIGHT

One of four maidens in the field but goes to post with an outside chance. Lack of a victory has more to do with meeting some useful animals rather than lack of ability, and second places behind Tumbleweed Ridge and Mick's Love read well when today's trip seems likely to bring considerable improvement. Short of fitness when sixth to Glory Of Dancer, and a prominent run at big odds is not beyond him. Odds: 33-1

PRINCE OF MY HEART

No runner has been as busy, with nine races already, but few have as little to show for their efforts. His only win this year came at Catterick, which is like a football team's only win being against Torquay, and his appearance at Epsom smacks of desperation. For that, Barry Hills, who has saddled four Derby runners-up, can be forgiven, but he will not succeed where Hills's Rheingold and Hawaiian Sound failed. Odds: 80-1

STORM TROOPER

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Mick Kinane's last-minute arrival aboard Storm Trooper is the crucial factor which should ensure that Henry Cecil is celebrating his fourth Derby winner tonight. An exciting winner on his seasonal debut, Storm Trooper has suffered from an inadequate trip (2,000 Guineas) and slow pace (Dante) since, but 12 furlongs and a fast pace can produce a devastating return to his best. Odds: 7-1

CHIEF CONTENDER

Peter Chapple-Hyam said earlier this year that he had a horse which he fancied strongly for the Derby. Unfortunately, it was Nash House, now sidelined by illness, rather than this colt who, despite his name, is far from being the most exalted member of the Manton string. He has at least managed to win his last two races easily enough, but the form amounts to very little and the fast ground is a serious worry. Odds: 33- 1

SHAAMIT

The fact that Lammtarra managed to win the Derby on his seasonal debut last year gives hope to Shaamit's supporters, but that he was the first horse to do so since 1919 is rather less encouraging. Shaamit's only success was in a maiden race and his prominence in the betting is thanks to impressive homework -he beat Glory Of Dancer in a recent gallop -but wise punters rely on racecourse form. Odds: 8-1

TASDID

It is 12 years since Secreto became the last Irish-trained Derby winner, and if the challenge from across the water continues at this level, it will be 112 years before the Irish win the race again. The only foreign- trained runner in the field, he has a name which translates from Arabic as "aiming at", which begs the question: at what, precisely? Humiliation? Has weak form and the trip is unlikely to suit. Odds: 200-1

CLASSIC EAGLE

Runs in the colours of the deeply troubled Classic Bloodstock plc, a share-based syndicate of several hundred investors whose profit- curve to date would be more familiar to Freddie Laker than Richard Branson. Optimistic shareholders are more likely to learn once again that even the "Find The Lady" shysters outside the course offer better odds than bloodstock when it comes to investing your cash. Odds: 200-1

DUSHYANTOR

The likely favourite, but evidence that he has what it takes to win is so thin that Perry Mason would refuse the brief. Runner-up to Glory Of Dancer in the Dante and should be better at this trip, but this is the same Dante which was run at such a crawl that experts dismiss it as a reliable guide. A half-brother to Commander In Chief, the 1993 winner, and has a chance, but it is nothing like as strong as his price implies. Odds: 4-1

JACK JENNINGS

In the aftermath of victory for Bryan McMahon's colt, the scramble for an interview with the connections would be led by Steven Spielberg, waving a contract for the film rights. McMahon, the son of a Liverpool docker, is more used to preparing handicappers and jumpers, and will be saddling a first Derby runner after 24 years with a licence. Has a small chance of a place based on his third in the Dante Stakes. Odds: 25-1

SHANTOU

Sheikh Mohammed has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on bloodstock and won just about every race in the calendar. Yet still the Derby eludes him, despite the efforts of various sycophants to credit him with the success 12 months ago of Lammtarra, who was trained by Godolphin but ran in the colours of the Sheikh's nephew. Even with Frankie Dettori on board, Shantou will not break the losing run. Odds: 40-1

ZAFORUM

History will be made if he can prevail. He would be the first maiden to win the Derby since 1887, the first ever winner whose name begins with a "Z", and most important of all, he would persuade a record number of punters to give up the turf and turn to the Lottery. With just one third place to his credit in seven outings, losing is not so much a habit as an addiction, and the moment has arrived for his next fix. Odds: 66- 1

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