06/02/2004 11:00PM

North Light takes on Snow Ridge at Epsom


Snow Ridge, runner-up in the 2000 Guineas, can give Frankie Dettori his first Epsom Derby winner as 14 runners line up for the 225th renewal on Saturday.

Although the race has been overshadowed by the withdrawal earlier this week of the ante-post favorite, Yeats, it still offers an intriguing mix of established contenders and lively outsiders. They should combine to create a compelling contest.

Dettori, a media darling, has been luckless in his previous 11 attempts at Derby glory, but this year he is aboard the likely favorite for his employer, Godolphin. Second to Haafhd at Newmarket in the one-mile 2000 Guineas, Snow Ridge must stay the 1 1/2 miles of the Derby.

A son of Indian Ridge, Snow ridge comes from a stout female line, with a dam who won over two miles, and stable confidence in his stamina should be justified. Class is not an issue.

The other major contender, North Light, may have shared a paddock as a yearling with Snow Ridge. Both were bred at Ballymacoll Stud in Ireland, owned by the late Lord Weinstock.

Trained by Michael Stoute, North Light races under the Ballymacoll Stud banner, and last month he was impressive winning the Dante Stakes at York, traditionally the best Derby trial. With Kieren Fallon to ride, he represents a trainer-jockey combination successful in last year's Derby with Kris Kin.

French raiders always add spice to the event, and American Post, winner of the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), will certainly do that. He will bid to give the French their first win in the race for 28 years.

A son of Bering, American Post is quite capable of doing so, but he may prove best at 1 1/4 miles. The fact that his shrewd connections have decided to run is perhaps a tip in itself, though.

Speaking of connections, those who own Hazyview and Gatwick have each stumped up a 75,000-pound supplementary entry fee to add their horses to the field this week. Both are multiple winners already this season, but are taking a significant step up in class.