British trainers put a small dent in the trade deficit yesterday by saddling the first four horses home in the Derby Italiano. They collected 1,250,000,000 lira (pounds 475,500) in prize-money, with the most significant cheque secured by Clive Brittain's Luso, who beat Court Of Honour (Peter Chapple-Hyam), Precede (Paul Cole) and Balliol Boy (Henry Cecil) at the Capanelle in Rome.
Luso and Court Of Honour reproduced almost exactly their form in the Chester Vase earlier this month. Ridden by Michael Kinane, Luso was a length and a half up at the line, with half a length and a neck separating the minor places, giving Brittain his second success in the race following Hailsham in 1991. Luso is not entered in the Derby and the Irish version is likely to be his next target, while Court Of Honour did not do enough to justify a run at Epsom.
Had Paul Kelleway's Pelder been able to make up just a short-head on Green Tune in the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp, a second Group One prize would have returned to Britain yesterday. None the less, on ground a little faster than he prefers, Pelder lost nothing in defeat, and further advertised the under-exploited ability of his trainer.
Back in Britain, meanwhile, punters and bookies pondered the discovery over the weekend that an important Derby trial took place at Lingfield a week ago without anyone noticing. In a television interview on Saturday, Kevin Darley, the rider of Celtic Swing, revealed that the 2,000 Guineas runner-up worked down the hill and around the sharp left turn at the Surrey track to introduce him to the sort of contours he would find at Epsom.
Intriguingly, Darley's comments - "he coped with the hill quite well and we were pleased with him" - provoked very different reactions among the bookmakers as Peter Savill, the colt's owner, approaches decision day on whether Celtic Swing will contest the Derby or Prix du Jockey Club. Coral decided that it is now "a shade of odds against that Celtic Swing will run at Epsom," according to Rob Hartnett, the firm's spokesman, while David Hood, of William Hill, was just as sure that the ex-wonder horse was now more likely to stay in Britain. Punters taking a view can choose between 2-1 with a run for the Derby (Ladbrokes) and 5-2 all in (Hills).
Ascot rather than Epsom will be the destination on most minds during racing at Sandown today, with important trials for both the Gold Cup and the King's Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting bringing together major contenders in their respective divisions.
The Group Three Henry II Stakes over two miles will give Linney Head his first opportunity at the sort of trip which his runs this year have indicated he now requires. It will be a demanding baptism, however, and Double Trigger (3.05), who finished fast over an inadequate 14 furlongs behind Moonax last time, may demonstrate that the stayers' division is at its most competitive for several seasons.
The Temple Stakes reunites Owington, the best three-year-old sprinter last year, with Mind Games, who beat him in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on 2,000 Guineas day. Owington (3.40) was the best horse at the weights that day and with the benefit of that run could reverse the form. Desert Green (4.10), who won in a fast time recently, should follow up in the Whitsun Cup.Reuse content