06/06/2001 11:00PM

Dilshaan has Epsom shot


Dilshaan, Michael Stoute's second-string entry in the 222nd running of the $1.39 million Epsom Derby, can eke out victory before an expected crowd of 100,000 at Epsom Downs on Saturday.

A son of the recently deceased stallion Darshaan, Dilshaan will be reunited with rider Johnny Murtagh in the 1 1/2-mile classic. The winner of the race last year aboard Sinndar, Murtagh rode Dilshaan to victory in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy last October but surrendered his place to Kieren Fallon when Dilshaan took the the Group 2 Dante Stakes on May 16.

Dilshaan beat Storming Home, one of four Barry Hills-trained horses in the Derby, by three-quarters of a length in the Dante, which is beginning to look like a key race, as its fifth-place finisher, Olden Times, took the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly last Sunday.

But Dilshaan, 7-2, must fight off the attentions of the Aidan O'Brien-trained Irish raider, Galileo. Unbeaten in three starts, Galileo, a Sadler's Wells colt, has been working up a storm since landing the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial five weeks ago. Michael Kinane has the call.

The impressive last-to-first winner of the 2000 Guineas, Golan is Stoute's first-string runner. He is the 2-1 favorite with most British bookies, but two factors leave him vulnerable to Dilshaan and Galileo. Not only has Golan lost the services of his rider, the suspended Fallon, but he worked indifferently at Newmarket this week. Pat Eddery, in search of his fourth Epsom Derby victory, replaces Fallon.

Perfect Sunday, the most highly rated of the Barry Hills quartet, is coming off a 2 1/2-length score over Derby rival Putra Sandhurst in the Lingfield Derby Trial. The others two Hills runners, Mr Combustible, winner of the Chester Vase, and Chancellor, who won the Sandown Classic Trial, are also dangerous. Ladbrokes offers 4-1 on one of the four Hills trainees landing the the $806,000 first prize.

The field of 12, the smallest since that many went in 1989, includes one Godolphin runner, Tobougg, the mount of Frankie Dettori. A son of Barathea and twice a Group 1 winner at 2, Tobougg was only ninth in the 2000 Guineas and cannot be expected to stay 1 1/2 miles.

The other three runners - Cashel Bay, King Carew and Sunny Glenn - are rank outsiders.