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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Cornelius Lysaght on the Derby
Cornelius
By Cornelius Lysaght
BBC racing correspondent

The Vodafone Derby may have the shortest-priced favourite in years, but the big race at Epsom on Saturday is no one-horse race.

Here's a look at the leading contenders for the Classic which is live on BBC One, Five Live and the BBC Sport website at 1620 BST.

(Trainers in brackets. England-based unless stated)

Visindar (Andre Fabre, France)

Hot favourite, unbeaten in three starts and impressive each time, he's a son of the stallion Sinndar, the 2000 Epsom Derby winner.

Pedigree experts suggest slight doubts over Visindar's stamina lasting out 1 miles, but he wasn't stopping at the end of his most recent race at Saint-Cloud.

There has been no French-trained winner since 1976 (Empery), and this is one big race in which Andre Fabre, 19 times the champion trainer of France, has enjoyed no luck.

Horatio Nelson (Aidan O'Brien, Ireland)

Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson was eased down when beaten in the Guineas
One of a handful of runners racing under John Magnier's Coolmore banner. Good two-year-old but ran disappointingly in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas, and has also endured an interrupted Derby preparation.

However, bred for this sort of challenge: his mother Imagine was successful in the 2001 Oaks, and worked very well on the O'Brien gallops this week. And the choice of jockey Kieren Fallon, almost a tip in itself.

Septimus (Aidan O'Brien, Ireland)

Another Coolmore hopeful, Septimus won the Dante Stakes at York, the most reliable of stepping-stone races.

He absolutely trotted up that day from another Derby hope, Best Alibi, but there is a chance that while he coped well with rain-softened going, others didn't.

Kieren Fallon was strikingly keen on Septimus' big race chances at York, though he is said not to have sparkled since that race.

Sir Percy (Marcus Tregoning)

Unbeaten until finishing runner-up behind the brilliant George Washington in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Took some time to get over the race, but now described as being in top form again by both Tregoning and jockey Martin Dwyer.

Stamina questions and interrupted prep both concerns, but not hard to get fit, and if at his best has definite chance.

Cost only 16,000 guineas, and would be a very popular success.

Dylan Thomas (Aidan O'Brien, Ireland)

Coolmore again, and impressed many good judges when successful from stablemate Mountain in the Leopardstown Derby Trial, but set to be the shrewd owners' third or fourth string.

Papal Bull (Sir Michael Stoute)

Winner of the Chester Vase - just like 1981 Derby winner Shergar, for the same trainer - in good style and added to the list of entries at a cost of 75,000 to Coolmore owners.

In-form Stoute, looking for his fifth Derby success, is careful with his hyperbole, but declared himself impressed with the colt's Chester run and his gallops work. Would not be a shock winner.

Hala Bek (Michael Jarvis)

Inexperienced but impressed with victory on his only start at Newbury, beating Derby outsider Dragon Dancer.

Although trainer a master at preparing for big races, it is a worry that he missed prep race at York because of a setback.

Reports now, however, are much more positive. It will be hard, but if he delivers what he promised at Newbury, could play a big part.

Linda's Lad (Andre Fabre, France)

Frankie Dettori
It has been unlucky 13 so far for Dettori
Fabre's number two string, but highly rated and successful - albeit narrowly - in the Lingfield Derby Trial, staged over a similarly topsy-turvy course to Epsom.

Has the responsibility of attempting to give Frankie Dettori a first Derby success in the only British Classic that he hasn't won, after no less than 13 tries.

Odds of around 12-1 to 16-1 seem to accurately reflect horse's chance.

Championship Point (Mick Channon)

The dark horse, in danger of being forgotten in the build-up, he has, as they say, done nothing wrong, not least when successful in Goodwood's Predominate Stakes.

Mick Channon
Former England footballer Channon seeks glory on the track
OK, the Predominate is not the world's most reliable trial, but he won it stylishly, and has a decent chance of providing Channon with a first British Classic victory.

Championship Point's owner John Livock loves tennis, hence the name. Odds may be overly long.

Atlantic Waves (Mark Johnston)

Has some good form, and should have the requisite stamina, but it was striking that his normally bullish trainer was uncharacteristically reticent about his chances.

He said: "I really don't know. It is in the lap of the Gods."

CONCLUSION: It certainly is no walkover for anyone, with up to about nine or ten in with well-above average chances.

The prices about both Visindar and Septimus don't look especially generous, and Horatio Nelson needs to improve markedly.

So Sir Percy, Papal Bull and Championship Point could give us real runs for our money at more practical odds.



SEE ALSO
Derby runners and riders
01 Jun 06 |  Horse Racing
Visindar heads Epsom Derby field
01 Jun 06 |  Horse Racing
Fallon to ride Nelson in Derby
31 May 06 |  Horse Racing
Epsom: Latest odds
30 May 06 |  Horse Racing
BBC Sport at Epsom
19 May 06 |  Horse Racing
Epsom Derby meeting schedule
18 May 06 |  Horse Racing


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