Racing: Admiral's Cup victory signals Pitt's arrival

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The Independent Online

It was a memorable scene, even for a bystander: one of the most intimate and theatrical of all sporting arenas, gilded by an authentic summer day - fountains and topiary, the gorgeous mob of townsfolk, and a race that could serve as a kite mark for the idiosyncrasies of the British Turf. For the young man who trained the winner, however, the moment was truly indelible.

Those watching the Totesport Chester Cup in the parade ring gradually became aware of a peculiar and increasing animation in the sleek, blond fellow in sunglasses and linen suit. After two laps of the ancient marathon, all 17 of Admiral's pursuers had come off the bridle and entering the short straight it was clear that he was going to take some catching. Tim Pitt started leaping up and down, scything the air with a phantom whip, his shouts reducing to hoarse, incoherent shrieks. As Admiral passed the post, driven a length clear, Pitt produced a final, implausible vault - his suede shoes swimming in mid-air - and sprinted, whooping, out on to the track to greet his winner.

Pitt, 31, took out a training licence only last November and this was just his second success on turf. The first had been Les Arcs in a listed sprint at Redcar on the first Saturday of the season. This venerable prize was meanwhile worth £58,272 to Chris Roper and Willie McKay, the owners of Admiral. Precocious achievement of this sort has scarcely been matched since another young Pitt became Prime Minister.

His air of assurance was heightened by the way Pitt deflected credit to others - to the farrier, who re-shod the horse at the start; to John Egan, for the hungriest of rides at his minimum weight; and above all to McKay, the football agent who installed him in a yard of 25 horses near Bawtry after stints as assistant to Peter Chapple-Hyam, Gerard Butler and John Gosden.

"Willie has made a huge investment, not just in the business, but in me as well," Pitt said. "Hopefully, this is the shape of things to come. Admiral has awful, brittle feet, but he hasn't done badly for a horse with three legs. And it was an absolutely superb ride from John."

McKay was no less complimentary in return, and little wonder after striking a bet of £2,000 at 33-1. His own bookmaker apart, the result enabled the layers to share the blessed fortune of those who had poured down the cobbled lanes to back Frankie Dettori in the first two races.

Providing Egan with a useful template, Dettori dictated the pace in the Cheshire Oaks on Time On, who may now be supplemented for the Oaks by her breeder, Robert Barnett. Her third dam, Time Charter, won the Epsom Classic in 1982 but this Sadler's Wells filly had given little indication that she might aspire to such heights in three starts last year.

"But when she won at Folkestone on her reappearance I told John Dunlop she would enjoy it round here," Dettori said. "She's proven she will stay the trip at Epsom, and she would love the track. She's from a very good family, so why not?"

Coral introduced Time On at 14-1 for Epsom, behind the 4-1 favourite, Alexandrova, heavily backed the previous day after apparently excelling in her work at Ballydoyle. She is due to reappear at York next week.

Epsom also beckons Dettori's first winner, Mubaashir, who turned over Cav Okay in the Lily Agnes Stakes. The favourite had shown molten pace on his debut at Newbury but could never cut loose here and Dettori produced the Noverre colt to win by a length and a half. Dettori was presented with a truckle of cheese, a prize that assumed an odd spectacle given his campaign to get the minimum weights raised.

"I know he only won by a head at Kempton but he gave me a good feel there," he said. "He was up against a more experienced rival and showed a great attitude, as he did here - he has a cold, sensible temperament."

Ed Dunlop will consider the Woodcote Stakes, knowing that it takes an equally agile animal to win at Epsom. That is why sparse fields have not cheapened the relevance of the Derby trials at this meeting, which have yielded Kris Kin and Oath over the past seven years. Only five contest today's Chester Vase, but Kris Kin emerged from a field of just four in the 2003 Dee Stakes. At this meeting, you never know when you might stumble across the start of something big. Pitt would hope that we have done so already.

Hyperion's Selections

NEWTON ABBOT: 2.10 Scarface 2.40 Longstone Lady 3.10 Galtee View 3.45 Cannon Fire 4.20 Rathlin Island 4.55 Bengal Bullet

Chris McGrath

Nap: Scooby Dude

(Chester 3.20)

NB: Judd Street

(Chester 2.20)