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Racing: BEND SLASHED AS ALAMSHAR STRUGGLES IN.

Byline: DAVID YATES at Leopardstown

REFUSE TO BEND is now 9-4 favourite with William Hill for next month's Vodafone Derby after market rival Alamshar struggled to land the odds in yesterday's Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

John Oxx's colt was sent off the 8-15 favourite for the trial, which has produced the last three Derby victors - Sinndar, Galileo and High Chaparral.

But, sent to the front by Johnny Murtagh with over a furlong to race, he failed to shake off Aidan O'Brien's second string The Great Gatsby, eventually getting the better of their tussle by a head.

The runner-up's stablemate Brian Boru, having his first outing since winning the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last autumn, took third, two and a half lengths away.

Ladbrokes and William Hill pushed Alamshar out to 9-2 for the Derby, while Coral offer 4-1.

Afterwards Oxx conceded the Aga Khan's runner, whose build-up to yesterday's race was hampered by a foot abscess, would have to improve to triumph at Epsom on June 7.

"That wasn't a spectacular performance, but I came here half expecting he would get beat, because he has been through a fair bit during the week.

"Coming into the race I felt he would do well to scramble in - he scrambled in, and I'm happy enough with that. He has to improve a good bit from this, but, please God, he'll have a better run up to the next race than he has had in the last race leading up to this one."

Murtagh, who will bid for his third Derby in the last four years at Epsom, added: "The conditions were terrible and I wasn't hard on him."

O'Brien was far from downcast by the performance of his pair, saying: "They are both possibles for Epsom - Brian Boru was very fresh and keen, and I thought he ran a good race."

The Ballydoyle trainer also revealed that Hold That Tiger is set to go straight to Epsom, where he could be joined by Alberto Giacometti, who finished third in yesterday's Prix Lupin at Longchamp.

"Alberto Giacometti didn't get the luck in running," he said.

CAPTION(S):

ALL OUT: Alamshar (2) battles home from The Great Gatsby at Leopardstown yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 12, 2003
Words:370
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