Chapple-Hyam started the year with the best horse, Revoque, who led the juvenile category of the international classifications. Three defeats on, the colt remains on the ramp of the repair shop and an immovable injury suggests he may never be the same again.
Revoque has not been before us since the worst run of his life in the Irish 2,000 Guineas in May. Chapple-Hyam remains vague about when the dual Group One winner will reappear. "We can't say anything definite about his next target because we have to take it week by week and day by day with the horse," the trainer said yesterday. "He's been sick and ever since Ireland he keeps going slightly lame. It will be one of those things that's going to drag on, but we know what to do now and we just have to bide our time and hope.
"It's a worry because the season is getting on a bit and it's also very frustrating, particularly as the milers this year don't seem the greatest bunch.
"He has never been the easiest horse in the yard to train and he is so lazy on the gallops that he would make you look like Dayjur. He's shocking. He frightens me to death and I think we're up against it to get him to the Moulin. The race I really want for him is the QEII. We might have to throw him straight into that.
"I could definitely get him ready first time but I'd have to take him to Newbury a few times for a gallop. He needs sharpeners and plenty of them. We will get him back."
Chapple-Hyam was appointed as Manton's trainer by Robert Sangster on Christmas Eve, 1990, and there were two rather pleasant stocking-fillers in his first intake in the shape of Rodrigo de Triano and Dr Devious. Revoque apart, there is another contemporary beast at the yard who is considered fit to share the same sentence as those pioneers.
Cape Verdi was sent to Royal Ascot's Chesham Stakes after a facile Newmarket success, with the margin of victory rather than victory itself the main preoccupation among her connections. They probably still replay the video and expect the filly to overtake Paul Cole's Central Park. "It was a big shock at Ascot because we thought it was just a case of canter down and canter back," Chapple-Hyam added. "The seven furlongs and the softish ground was slightly against us that day."
More favourable conditions of six furlongs on a firmer surface will be available when Cape Verdi returns to the track next Thursday for the Lowther Stakes at York's Ebor meeting. If she fails there, friends will not allow Chapple-Hyam near sharp implements or cliffs. "Next week hinges on Cape Verdi and she is in very good form," the trainer said. "She's top class and there is no way I've given up on her. Every time I see her I get more excited."
There is excitement, too, in the weighing room during the lead up to York as jockeys wait to discover if they will come in for spare rides on any of Mark Johnston's horses. The Middleham trainer routinely employs Jason Weaver for the Kingsley House string, but he will be suspended over next week's meeting.
Johnston is another waiting for an old hero to return to the racecourse, and if Bijou d'Inde, who was brought down in the Dubai World Cup and has consequently been suffering from a tendon injury, is on parade for the International Stakes, he will be ridden by Darryll Holland. "I don't know what other runners we will have at the moment but I will choose from the jockeys who normally ride for us, Darryll, Brett Doyle, Michael Roberts, and Michael and Richard Hills," Johnston said.
Omitted from the squad is Olivier Peslier, who rode Johnston's Fly To The Stars to success in both the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot and Goodwood's Golden Mile. The French champion jockey finished second on the same horse yesterday in the Listed Prix de Tourgeville at Deauville, a race won by Freddie Head on Marathon. He outstayed them, as his name suggested he would.
Victory over Peslier proved a fitting finale for the six-times former French champion. Head, 50, later announced his retirement, ending a career that brought him over 2,500 winners worldwide.
He named Three Troikas, on whom he won the Arc, and Miesque the 1987 1,000 Guineas winner, as among the best horses he had ridden. He added: "You have got to go some time and it's a big advantage to go when you are still in one piece."
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