Racing: Cautious route to Kentucky may suit Discreet Cat

Though the richest race meeting of all time was a dazzling culmination of many dreams, it was only a beginning. David Junior, who won more than any British horse in history, was Brian Meehan's very first runner from Manton. Heart's Cry, the Japanese horse who beat Ouija Board, will run over the new course at Ascot this summer. And not even Electrocutionist, who won his stable a fifth Dubai World Cup, could open up more bewitching horizons for Godolphin than the magnificent performance of Discreet Cat.

Both were among the horses recruited by Godolphin to plug holes that began to appear beneath the waterline last summer. Shamardal and Dubawi had been retired, and no obvious successors were emerging from a sluggish juvenile team.

No final judgement can be passed on those horses until the more backward ones come out of the woodwork. But the Godolphin team's own, decisive response in the autumn acknowledged an urgent need for fresh blood. The success of Electrocutionist and Discreet Cat at Nad al Sheba on Saturday delivered an instant £3m dividend, and a priceless sense that the ship is back on an even keel.

In a way, the stable has gone back to basics. Its original pioneers were assembled as an élite corps of proven runners. Perhaps what happened on Saturday will confirm that it is easier to let others sort out the wheat from the chaff on its behalf.

There are those who profess some kind of peculiar moral distress over Godolphin's acquisition of horses from other yards. That attitude is not merely squeamish. It is childish, sentimental and downright ignorant.

Funnily enough, you never hear even a whisper of indignation over the voracious trade in young jumpers. The biggest National Hunt owners compete greedily for French hurdlers and Irish point-to-pointers. And, lest we forget, no horse is ever bought without being sold. The owners of David Junior and Sir Percy resisted enormous offers during the winter. Plainly their interest in the sport is not merely commercial, nor even pragmatic. But there are a lot of smaller operators - owners, breeders and trainers alike - heavily indebted to Godolphin.

The grass roots of the Turf are nourished not by fantasists, but by such professionals, governed by precisely the same commercial imperatives as Coolmore Stud itself. Only the Maktoums can afford immunity, but it is wrong to expect them to suspend absolutely every business principle as a result. Godolphin are perfectly within their rights to exploit their strength in an open marketplace. And their endeavours with the horses they recruit from other yards mean that the public wins too.

No stable has ever been more adventurous. When a top runner joins Godolphin, the objective expectation should not only be that the horse will be handled with dexterity - witness the way mature specimens in Swain, Daylami and Fantastic Light flourished under Saeed bin Suroor - but also that his talents will be deployed with riveting bravado.

Would Electrocutionist ever have been risked on dirt for any other stable? The chances are that he is indeed a turf horse. He was off the bridle almost throughout on Saturday, and only his generosity and class got him home.

Paradoxically, however, it is precisely the same instinct for adventure that casts a delicious dread over the next move for Discreet Cat. Sheikh Mohammed has made his craving for the Kentucky Derby too plain for many to believe that he might, just this once, consider discretion to be the better part of valour.

This race, above all others, could wreck this colt as soon as make him. It presents a savage test of stamina and maturity, and Discreet Cat has not come off the bridle in three starts. His physique remains adolescent. As a May foal, walking behind the beefy Chilean runner in the parade ring, he looked positively delicate. With that rival failing to run his race, moreover, the strict form is only a foundation.

Discreet Cat has as much charisma as any horse in the stable since Dubai Millennium, but if he does stay 10 furlongs at the top level then it would be kindest to postpone his first trip to Churchill Downs to November, for the Breeders' Cup Classic. On the way he could pick off exhausted Triple Crown horses in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, and he could even start off in its second leg, the Preakness Stakes - over a shorter trip, just a fortnight after the Derby principals have slugged it out in Louisville.

But it is hard to see his owner favouring prudence and caution over adventure and ambition. As a true horseman, he will abide with the stable's dictum to see how Discreet Cat has taken his race before making any decisions. As a sportsman, however, he has probably made up his mind already.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Wise Owl (Kempton 4.40)

NB: Indian Edge

(Wolverhampton 5.00)

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower