Most of the disturbing moments in racing involve pain and horses: the whippings, the bone-testing falls and, most depressing of all, the occasional fatalities. But for consistent dismay, little matches the look that sweeps over trainers when they see the press pack approaching - a scene reminiscent of vultures descending on a doomed wildebeest.
Many trainers have little time or sympathy for the press (those like Dick Hern stuggle to keep this a secret), but there are some such as John Gosden and Sir Mark Prescott who draw an appreciative crowd because they can be guaranteed to deliver a snippet worthy of record. This summer, though, the most popular figure has been Peter Chapple-Hyam, and it has nothing to do with his conversation.
Earlier this season, a sizeable battery of the Fourth Estate, doubtless worried that their return was barely above pounds 4.15 an hour, decided to invest on the number of winners Chapple-Hyam would register this year. They all went high.
Thus, Chapple-Hyam's appearances in front of the television cameras have also included several gargoyles hanging round his shoulders and listening for information on his horses. The good news for the poor reporters has been that Manton has recently pierced a rich vein of form; the bad news (the bit newspapers usually like) is that most of the winners have been abroad and they do not count for the spread bet. Chapple-Hyam is playing a dangerous game, especially with the pitbulls of the tabloid team.
The trainer will again be crossing several stretches of water during a busy weekend, opening up with Polaris Flight in the National Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday. The colt has been allowed much leisure since capturing the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood in July, but has recently worked well in the build-up to his comeback. "He definitely runs and we're hoping for a big run," the trainer said yesterday. "He's in very good form and he'll be suited by the step up to seven furlongs. If it rains it will suit him even better."
Chapple-Hyam expects to beat the home contingent, but maintains a healthy respect for Danehill Dancer. However, Neville Callaghan's colt may travel elsewhere to frighten a Manton inmate, as he is also entered for the following day's Prix de la Salamandre, in which he would again meet his Leopardstown victim from the Heinz 57 Phoenix Stakes, Woodborough. The other British acceptors for Longchamp's Group One race over seven furlongs are Bijou d'Inde (who is trained by Mark Johnston) and Lord Of Men (John Gosden).
Gosden and Chapple-Hyam may again be in opposition for the Group Three Prix du Prince d'Orange, over 10 furlongs, on the same card. Gosden saddles Tamure, who has been off the course since finishing runner-up in the Derby to Lammtarra, and he is likely to face Spectrum, who also last ran in that race (though he was in action for considerably longer than Tamure).
The thought had been to prepare Spectrum for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot's Festival of , but instead the colt will be supplemented for France (the press boys are not happy). "He is ready to run and we want to try him over a mile and a quarter," Chapple-Hyam said. "If he runs well it will give us more options with him. We've got to give Tamure weight but I'm not too worried."
While Court Of Honour makes his fourth Italian appearance of the season in the Group One Gran Premio d'Italia at San Siro at the weekend, what several consider to be the stable's most important runners will compete at Ayr's Western meeting in coming days.
At Doncaster last week Chapple-Hyam sent the scribblers into a paroxysm of excited giggles when he announced that at least three of his four juvenile representatives in Scotland would be successful. The boast is tested for the first time today with the appearances of Reinhardt and Soviet Style.Reuse content