Racing: Detroit City not so slick

Champion Hurdle favourite is far from impressive despite landing another victory

The received wisdom is that five-year-olds do not win Champion Hurdles, or if they do they must be exceptional. The last of the vintage to do so was See You Then 22 years ago; others to back up the claim before him have included Persian War and Night Nurse. Detroit City is favourite to become the next in the sequence at Cheltenham next month, but heads for his assignment on the back of a performance here yesterday that even his trainer, Philip Hobbs, described as only workmanlike.

The massive grey gelding was anything but sparklingly brilliant as he ground out a length-and-three-quarter defeat of Straw Bear in the Agfa Hurdle. Yet he keeps producing persuasive statistics. This was his eighth successive victory, a sequence started over hurdles in January last year. He became the first horse in more than 25 years to win both the Triumph Hurdle - a vintage running in record time - and its Aintree equivalent.

In his run before yesterday he disposed of the former dual champion, Hardy Eustace, who himself saw off the reigning king, Brave Inca, a week ago. So, nothing wrong with the substance. And even if the style does not please, its effect cannot be crabbed. Detroit City just keeps motoring along.

"He just does as much as he has to, and not an inch more," said his rider, Richard Johnson. "The more you ask, the more he gives, and gives willingly and very professionally. But he won't volunteer anything. Which is probably good, especially on a day like today, when the ground was very gluey and tiring. He'll have a bit left for next time."

The clue to the action on the track was there in the preliminaries. Detroit City slouched round the parade ring, blinkered head low and walk indolent. His only credible rival, Straw Bear, stepped out as briskly as a marching Gurkha, neck arched high and proud, but his quick enthusiasm was just not enough.

Johnson let Detroit City leap to the lead at the third hurdle and Straw Bear, on the comeback trail after a flop in top company at Christmas, kept him honest all the way to the line but could not even capitalise on a blunder by the 1-3 favourite - which frightened his backers and trainer more than his rider - at the last flight.

"He half-caught his knee on it, but I think it looked worse than it felt," said Johnson. "OK, he didn't pull away, but that's a hard thing to do up the Sandown hill under any circumstances. He's idle, but he keeps winning. I wouldn't swap him for anything."

Terry Warner's colour-bearer, 17 hands and built with it, will not be allowed much time off before his big day five weeks on Tuesday. "Big, strong and stuffy," said the Minehead-based Hobbs. "He'd come here pretty straight - we didn't want to get him beaten - but he is hard to motivate at home. He swims every day as well as being ridden, and we take him to the beach once a week, which he enjoys and tightens him up."

Hobbs has no illusions about the task facing his stable star, but feels that his very youth may be a quality on his side. "Those Irish horses are very good but they are getting older," he said. "Ours is the one that's improving, and will do so again. Perhaps he was more workmanlike than impres-sive today but he had to do it the hard way. He's the Champion Hurdle favourite, and so he should be."

Yesterday's race caused barely a ripple in the market: Detroit City remains at its head at a general 5-2; Straw Bear, the perceived next best of the home defence, was trimmed to around 10-1. "Whether we beat the winner again remains to be seen," said the chestnut's trainer, Nick Gifford, "but we've put his last run behind us and he's showed he belongs in this sort of company."

A year ago, Detroit City put down his Triumph Hurdle marker in the day's opening juvenile contest. This time it was the turn of last year's Derby eighth, Mountain - now a gelding and transferred from Ballydoyle to Jonjo O'Neill - who rapidly recovered ground lost in a babyish leap two out to win most competently under Tony McCoy. He is now third favourite for the Cheltenham race.

The day's most gratifying win, though, was by Cheshire housewife Agnes Haddock, who picked Taranis to win the Totescoop6 Hurdle and battered the bookies to the tune of £688,000 for a stake of £2 in the eponymous accumulative bet.

BETS OF THE DAY

Best shortshot
The experience of Degas Art (2.30), the only horse to beat Katchit over hurdles, is preferred to record-priced auction buy Purple Moon.

Best longshot
Singhalongtasveer (1.30), not the most consistent, may find his stamina stretched but is dropping in the weights and down in grade.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone