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  Friday, 8 June, 2001, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
All's well that ends well
The Amato pub is the venue for the mystic predictions
The Amato's prediction attracts a worldwide audience
BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh discovers a long-running Derby saga alive and well.

The name appeared scrawled in chalk in the dead of night - Galileo.

No-one knew the author, but they all professed to know its meaning - it was the name of this year's Derby winner.

And so the story goes, that a gypsy tradition dating back decades sees the big race selection mysteriously appear on a well outside The Amato inn on the Sunday before Derby day.

It can be written off as a stunt but don't tell that to the regulars who populate the hostelry tucked away in Chalk Farm Lane, between Epsom's town centre and rolling Downs.

They swear by the magic of the well, and point to an apparently successful record as proof that the system works.

Galileo is etched on the magic well
The 'magic' well declares the winner

The Irish-trained horse Galileo will start one of the favourites for Saturday's Vodafone Derby, and the locals cannot remember when the well displayed the name of a horse which finished out of the first three.

Word has spread, with the pub fielding calls from curious punters in such far-flung destinations as Hong Kong, Dubai, Canada, Spain and Greece.

They all want to know one thing - what's the name on the well?

Maureen Kelling took over management of the pub with her husband Joe in February.

She will follow the well's wisdom with her Derby bet, so will barman Robert Langrell along with scores of once-a-year punters.

If they served up a pint called Galileo, it would probably be the most popular brew, although you might be seeing stars in the morning.

"No-one's been here long enough to know when the name started appearing on the well, but it's definitely over 40 years," says Maureen.

"It's a gypsy oath that has been passed down, and they've had a good success rate - Sinndar won last time.

The famous sign for the Amato pub in Epsom
Amato won the Derby in 1838

"The regulars follow it, although some of them say the choice should have been Perfect Sunday this year.

"For them to still believe it, the horse has to finish in the top three. If it doesn't, it will be a disaster."

The inn, previously the Horse and Hounds, has been known as The Amato ever since the horse of that name won the Derby in 1838.

Inside on the pub's walls are horseshoes representing Derby winners down the years, and photographs of equine superstars.

As we chat outside by the well, necks are craned by passing motorists and pedestrians keen to find out the name of this year's winner.

From the pub's kitchen emerges one of those heart-stopping voices that can only belong to a chef.

"Galileo," he booms, to the tune of that famous record by rockers Queen - "Galileo, Galileo, let me go."

Come 1550 BST on Saturday, he and many others will be banking on a Bohemian Rhapsody.

Check out comprehensive live coverage of the Vodafone Derby meeting on 8-9 June on BBC TV, Five Live and Sport Online.

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