Derby suffers blow from Hero

RACING: The Blue Riband third is beaten by a former handicapper as Applaud takes a bow for next year's Classic contenders

reports from Newmarket

Those whose pleasure is to rubbish the Derby form were able to relish the arrival of another bucket of rot here yesterday, when Presenting, the Epsom third, could manage only the same position behind Beauchamp Hero in the Princess Of Wales's Stakes, to become the sixth failure to emerge from the Derby field.

Presenting had reacted as if he was recollecting the closing scenes from The Glenn Miller Story when he was being loaded on to a plane bound for the Curragh 11 days ago and injured himself in the course of his thrashings. John Gosden, the colt's trainer, admitted his horse had had an interrupted preparation for yesterday, but this was scant mitigation in the eyes of those who noted that the winner has been little more than moderate for much of his career.

Beauchamp Hero, who squeezed through a gap as bravely as a cave diver yesterday, ran at the Derby meeting, in a handicap, before capturing the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. But the men behind him will not hear the word sub-standard. "He's a tremendously tough and game horse and no longer a handicapper," John Reid, the jockey, said. "I don't think I've had a bigger thrill all year than the one he's given me today."

John Dunlop, Beauchamp Hero's trainer, is enjoying sublime times on the racecourse, but away from the track there has been a reverse. Aqaarid, the 1,000 Guineas second, bled after a gallop at Goodwood on Saturday and will miss the Irish Oaks this weekend. Indeed, it is unlikely the filly will run again.

David Loder, on the other hand, can look forward to rewarding days with his fillies, one of whom, Applaud, won the day's other Group race, the Cherry Hinton Stakes. Of the 23 juvenile races contested by the Newmarket trainer this season, 16 have culminated in victory.

Applaud set a bursting pace from the front in this race and held on stiffly from the dead-heaters Dance Sequence and Darling Flame.

Loder, who also trains the talented Blue Duster, a Royal Ascot winner, applauded others for his strike-rate. "My head lad feeds the horses extremely well through the winter and they come out in the spring big and strong and you soon see the ones that are going to go early," he said. "You've only got to look at this filly to know she's all there, but I've never put her as far forward as Blue Duster. She's six lengths ahead."

The latter has the trinity of the Princess Margaret at Ascot, York's Lowther Stakes and the Cheveley Park at the Rowley Mile course ahead of her, while Applaud may be supplemented for the Heinz 57 Stakes at Leopardstown next month.

The July meeting is famously the occasion when the swarming thunder flies, perspiration droplets on top lips and bookies scribbling prices for next year's Classics all come out, and yesterday was no exception. Coral make Blue Duster a 14-1 joint favourite with Bint Salsabil for the 1996 1,000 Guineas, while Applaud is 25-1.

The price that people noted most yesterday, however, was the 7-2 returned about Samah in the first handicap, as the gelding was available at 20- 1 in morning trading. This was not a touch, it was more of a grope.

The stewards shrewdly did not miss this, but felt unable to adjudicate on the spot as they had insufficient evidence. The top brass at Portman Square will now hear explanations about how Samah managed to win this competitive race for a second year after finishing 12th of 15 on his previous outing at York.

David "Dandy" Nicholls, who unquestionably acquired his nickname from a sitcom actress rather than any snappy dress sense, said his involvement had been pounds 150 each way.

The Thirsk trainer does not appear to be taken by the feudal relationship which is normally afforded to the man who pays the bills. He blamed Samah's owner for insisting on the front-running tactics that had ended in defeat this season and then pointed him out in rather irreverent manner. "He's over there," Nicholls said. "He's the fat lad."

The owner's name was Robert Robinson and he seemed to be bluffing with his inquisitors when he informed them that he was "between jobs". Further intrigue was added as he had bought the five-year-old from Stuart Aitken, the former casino owner noted for his own betting coups.

Robinson added that Aitken, who now lives in Prague, was on holiday in the United States, which means the figure who was seen slipping through the crowds yesterday after reportedly slapping a huge wedge on the horse must have been merely a lookalike.