Racing: Day Flight reveals hidden Derby potential

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The Independent Online

It was a scene of huge embarrassment here yesterday after Day Flight had made a mockery of the mild Derby trial which is the Glasgow Stakes. Awkward for those behind the three horses which had finished 20 lengths and more in arrears of the winner and awkward even for connections of Day Flight himself.

It was a scene of huge embarrassment here yesterday after Day Flight had made a mockery of the mild Derby trial which is the Glasgow Stakes. Awkward for those behind the three horses which had finished 20 lengths and more in arrears of the winner and awkward even for connections of Day Flight himself.

For while the son of Sadler's Wells is bred like a Blue Riband consideration and raced like one yesterday, he has not been entered for the premier Classic. Indeed, until a few weeks ago it was not thought he was a racehorse of much substance at all. Much sleight of hoof has been occurring on the Manton gallops of John Gosden. Day Flight has been hiding his capabilities most cleverly.

Evidence of this was the colt's price for his career debut, a Salisbury maiden 12 days ago. Sent off at 7-1, he won by six lengths. The price (5-2) was shorter yesterday, but the winning distance considerably more comprehensive as Richard Hughes's mount stepped up to Listed class for the race won 11 years ago by the subsequent Derby winner, Commander In Chief. It was a bloodless slaughter. "He's come to hand very quickly, literally in the last month," Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said. "He's gone from being disappointing to quite exciting. He's not in the Derby, mainly because we thought he was an immature horse mentally and physically. He didn't go into training until quite late.

"Before the race we were talking about the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot and the Irish Derby and, in principle, that is still the plan. Epsom might just be a little too much for him. We want to give him a chance to be a very good horse."

It may be that Day Flight is fairly close to that station already. He was scratchy to post and slow out of the stalls, both facets highlighting his immaturity. Day Flight soon regained a racing rhythm, however, on the inside of Ballydoyle's Go For Gold, the only Derby entry in the field. By four furlongs out, Hughes's partner was in front. Two out he was clear and, by the line, he was marooned. His jockey looked over a shoulder in the closing stages and could not believe what he was not seeing.

"The thing is that Mr Gosden does not train them to win first time, so if they do it means they're pretty special," Hughes said. "It's not often you go 20 lengths clear like that. I looked round because I thought Kieren [Fallon on favourite Fort Dignity] might be waiting to pounce. It was unbelievable when I saw where they were. He just galloped them into the ground. It was just like a piece of work. The Derby for him though is at the Curragh and not Epsom. He wouldn't handle the track there. He hits the ground quite hard and wouldn't come down that hill."

There could, though, still be a change of plan. Khalid Abdullah can afford to hold Day Flight in Classic readiness as he already has the Racing Post Trophy winner, American Post, primed for the scamper around Tattenham Corner. If American Post collects the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) in style on Sunday the matter will be closed. If it turns nasty though, the temptation to supplement Day Flight for Epsom, for a fee of £75,000 a week before the race, will become increasingly irresistible.

The first of the Cup races rewrote history as it was dominated by Millenary and Alcazar, respectively aged seven and nine. No horse older than six had won since the Group Two contest was inaugurated in 1927. The former's three-length success broke a losing streak for Richard Quinn which stretched back 52 rides. Now Quinn will have to do some stretching of his own as a plan will have to be formulated to preserve Millenary's stamina for the extra six furlongs of the Ascot Gold Cup.

"We'd just have to give him a chance and be more patient with him," the jockey said. When the pace starts quickening up he motivates himself. He knows it's on."

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Siena Gold

(Newbury 3.00)

NB: Fontanesi

(Aintree 7.05)

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