Prezza's home on the range turns out to be west, but not exactly wild

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Indy Politics

John Prescott justified his visit to Philip Anschutz's ranch on the grounds that he wanted "to look at a working cattle ranch".

But it turns out that Mr Prescott may have been barking up the wrong cactus tree. Anschutz's Eagle's Nest estate, 75 miles north of Denver, is more a luxury retreat for entertaining than your average Circle Y ranch. It consists of rather more than a rocking chair on a porch, and includes an in-house spa, home cinema, pool, gym and a fine collection of Western art. Then there is the 2,000-bottle wine cellar to help slake the thirst after a hard day on the range - the golf range that is.

Having sampled those, if Mr Prescott hankered for the great outdoors he could then have chosen to hunt the local Chinese ringneck pheasant which flock down by the rivers next to the green prairie land. Or he could have followed the example of US Vice-President Dick Cheney, another former house guest, in the pursuit of wild ducks, turkeys or quail that populate the area.

Bill Jackson, a reporter with local newspaper the Greeley Tribune, said the estate was Anschutz's "private fiefdom". "He is obsessed by secrecy and no one gets to go to Eagle's Nest without a personal invitation," said Mr Jackson. "It is about as far from a working cattle ranch as you can get. On real cattle ranches, animals are packed into feedlots by their thousands. Anschutz has a few dozen Herefords looking pretty in the nicely manicured pasture so that he and his guests can play at being cowboys. It is a rich man's vanity project."

It was reported by The Mail on Sunday last night that Mr Prescott galloped around the ranch on a thoroughbred stallion and attempted to lasso livestock.

By night, the DPM could have stayed at the 15-bedroom red-brick mansion, or with one of Anschutz's many sports teams which he allows to use the 12-bedroom hunting lodge.

What Mr Prescott does not appear to have done is discuss world trade negotiations, despite telling the BBC last week that he had "wanted to talk to farmers, which I did about the Doha... sugar beet industries, agriculture subsidies". Susan Sewald, of the Colorado Sugarbeet Growers Association, which represents all 257 individual growers in the state, said: "He didn't talk to any growers. We would have known about it."

Additional reporting by Victoria Goldenberg