Derby debate continues
Mark Johnston is unsure what to make of the controversial participation of apparent no-hoper Diore Lia in Saturday's Investec Derby at Epsom.
The daughter of Yeats is a 1,000-1 shot for the world's most famous Flat race having finished down the field on her only two starts to date.
Diore Lia will make her first appearance for trainer John Jenkins on Saturday, after moving from Jane Chapple-Hyam's stable, and will be ridden by apprentice Gina Mangan, whose only winner came at Roscommon back in 2009.
Johnston, who saddles leading hope Permian in the premier Classic, said: "It's a very difficult one. I would hate to see restrictions on a race like the Derby
"The most important thing about Group One competition is that it's open to anybody – anybody that pays the money and wants to take their chance.
"Having said that, all credit to Jane Chapple-Hyam, who was willing to give up the horse and say 'this horse should not be in the Derby'.
"That's her opinion and I very much respect that she's made that stance.
"I'm not going to say the rules should be changed or anything like that, but I'm surprised connections wanted to put an apprentice on a filly.
"The very best of fillies have struggled in the Derby and most people will say this filly shouldn't be there."
Newmarket trainer John Berry believes Diore Lia should not be running, but thinks it would be difficult to implement a rule that would stop lowly-rated horses competing in the top races.
He told At The Races: "If there's not a full field and someone has paid up to enter, I think you are getting on very thin ice if you start legislating what can, or cannot, run.
"Every year there are quite a few no-hopers in Group races at big prices that finish tailed-off and once you start making a subjective decision about where you draw the line, it's very tricky.
"For me the horse shouldn't run, but connections shouldn't be prohibited from running.
"It's hard to say this is the line in the sand."
Berry is less concerned about apprentices like Mangan being allowed to ride in the race, adding: "You have to achieve a certain standard to be granted a licence.
"These are professionals. They are not amateurs. They have been assessed and got a licence and it isn't harder to ride in one Flat race than another.
"If they are good enough to ride in a six-furlong handicap at Catterick, you're probably good enough to ride around Epsom."
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