Racing: Trouble afoot fails to upset Even Top

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Even Top has given his trainer, Mark Tompkins, a confidence-shaking scare by pulling out of his box with a poisoned near-fore foot. The colt represents Tompkins's best chance of landing the Derby after finishing a whisker away from Mark Of Esteem in the 2,000 Guineas.

But the hitch is not going to hinder Even Top on Saturday according to the trainer's assistant, Phil Green. "We took the shoe off for a day and all is now well," Green said. "He was going to have an easy day so the timing could not have been better. A bit of puss came out of the foot and he now has the shoe back on and will canter tomorrow."

As expected, Mark Of Esteem, Mick's Love and Nash House were among 12 absentees at yesterday's five-day stage for Saturday's race, leaving a maximum of 22 to enter the stalls.

Andre Fabre withdrew Supreme Commander and Grape Tree Road, leaving France without a Derby runner for only the third time in 20 years. Tasdid is the only Irish entry left and is not a pacemaker for Alhaarth, who carries the same Hamdan Al Maktoum colours.

With most acceptors likely to run, the Derby will have one of its biggest fields of recent years. Although 25 went to post two years ago, a smaller line-up has been more usual, with just 13 runners in 1991 and 12 in 1989.

There was little betting action yesterday but William Hill shortened Shaamit to 12-1 from 14-1 and Ladbrokes reported support for Roger Charlton's Lingfield Trial winner, Mystic Knight. He is 16-1 from 20-1, while Storm Trooper, who worked so impressively on Saturday, is solid at10-1.

DERBY WITHDRAWALS AT YESTERDAY'S FIVE-DAY STAGE: Amfortas, Ashbal, Grape Tree Road, Heron Island, Jiyush, Kammtarra, Mark Of Esteem, Mick's Love, Nash House, Russian Revival, Stereo Dancer, Supreme Commander.