Racing: Derby trial looks a stroll for Walk In The Park

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Lingfield stages its version of a Derby rehearsal this afternoon as the Classic awaits the appearance of an outstanding leading man.

Lingfield stages its version of a Derby rehearsal this afternoon as the Classic awaits the appearance of an outstanding leading man.

Gypsy King put down a marker of sorts at Chester yesterday, while his rival in the Epsom ante-post lists, Motivator, owes his lofty place largely by dint of the fact that he has not soiled his reputation by actually appearing in a race this season. The Derby trials thus far have just led to punter tribulations.

If there is a hero to hack his way through the thorns in Surrey this afternoon it is likely to be John Hammond's Walk In The Park, the French-based colt who was recently supplemented for the premier Classic at a cost of £8,000, enough for many but the sort of sum his owner, Michael Tabor, has down the back of the settee.

It is one theory that Walk In The Park's addition to the field is evidence that there is no definitive Derby horse at Tabor's main premises of Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle. Alternatively, it could be that the son of Montjeu will be more suited to the British rhythm of racing. Walk In The Park's most notable effort in France last year was in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, in which he finished third and would almost certainly have done better had he not pulled so violently in the early stages.

A truer gallop will be available today, with Party Boss a likely candidate as a pace-setter. Clive Brittain's colt behaved as if his tail was on fire in the 2,000 Guineas, but, paradoxically, took little out of himself as he blazed away at the front. "Party Boss lost only one kilo in the race," Brittain said yesterday. "He made all the running and made too much use of himself. It was almost like he hadn't had a run.

"We could go a completely different way with him now. We do know that he has got speed and, if he can settle and produce that speed, then he's going to take a bit of beating." Walk In The Park (next best 2.10) is likely to be there, however, when Party Boss runs out of puff.

The Oaks trial carries significance as AYAM ZAMAN (nap 3.20) is among the contestants. The filly strolled away with the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket last season, grounds enough to back her today. Further sparkle is added by the fact that she has been identified by Michael Jarvis, the Newmarket trainer on a surf of form at the moment, as his best Classic prospect.

There is a nudge towards a different pursuit at Haydock this afternoon in the Stanleybet (formerly Swinton) Hurdle, an event which confirms that National Hunt racing, like the poor, is always with us. Now that Rooster Booster (1.50) has remembered what it is like to be a winning racehorse it may pay to stick with the grey.

The Derrinstown Stud Derby trial at Leopardstown tomorrow is a contest which traditionally holds great influence on the Blue Riband, yet it appears to hold paler importance this time. Ballydoyle has a representative, as it seems to have in all trials this season, and this is an opportunity for their Grand Central to move on from the disappointment of his seasonal reappearance.

In the United States it is not a weekend for trials, rather the real big thing in the shape of the Kentucky Derby. The collective breath is being held in America as there is legitimate anticipation that a monster horse has arrived.

Bellamy Road is the name of the colt which promises to jump into the stratosphere of great horses occupied by the likes of Secretariat and Affirmed. Nick Zito's runner, in the domestic vernacular, looked truly awesome in his main prep race, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. In the land where statistic is king, Bellamy Road came up with some incredible figures. Not only did he win the race by over 17 lengths, he also managed to equal the track record time established by Riva Ridge in 1972. Now, at Churchill Downs, they are expecting the unexpected.

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Ayam Zaman (Lingfield 3.20)

NB: Walk In The Park (Lingfield 2.10)

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