Racing: Dubai Destination ready to lay claims to a role in Derby

Two decades and more have passed since the winner of the Predominate Stakes went on to occupy the same position in the Derby. Troy romped home by seven lengths at Goodwood in 1979 before repeating the feat at Epsom and although he was not the last high-class horse to win the race – Pentire did so in 1995 and Dubai Millennium three years ago – the contest stands low in the pecking order of the so-called trials. The reasons are not difficult to fathom.

Two decades and more have passed since the winner of the Predominate Stakes went on to occupy the same position in the Derby. Troy romped home by seven lengths at Goodwood in 1979 before repeating the feat at Epsom and although he was not the last high-class horse to win the race – Pentire did so in 1995 and Dubai Millennium three years ago – the contest stands low in the pecking order of the so-called trials. The reasons are not difficult to fathom.

As a race in its own right, it carries only Listed rank, as opposed to the Group Two status of the Dante Stakes, and so attracts lesser competitors. It is also the last of the recognised domestic dress rehearsals, only 18 days before the real thing, which minimises the window of recovery in the event of minor injury. In its favour, the undulating track can give a horse a valuable lesson in how to handle Tattenham Hill.

Although Dubai Millennium made a certain impact at Epsom by starting favourite before he boiled over into seventh place, the only Predominate Stakes runners to feature in the Derby finish since Troy have been Rankin (2nd at Goodwood, 3rd at Epsom), Touching Wood (2nd in both) and Elmaamul (2nd and 3rd).

Among today's six runners, another walking advertisement for the delights of the second-largest of the United Arab Emirates is foremost in the Derby market. Dubai Destination looked a colt of immense promise at two but he has not raced for eight months and two of his Godolphin stablemates, Naheef and Al Moulatham, are now preferred by punters.

If the son of Kingmambo's length defeat of the subsequent Dewhurst Stakes, Grand Criterium and 2,000 Guineas winner Rock Of Gibraltar in the Champagne Stakes last year was for real, then the Tipperary team may yet be looking over their shoulders. After being given as long as he needed to put the ligament injury that ruled him out of the Dewhurst behind him, Dubai Destination has proved slow to blossom and it was only after a workout last week that he was given the signal to re-enter the fray.

His team have warned that he will benefit from today's shakedown. "He is not hard yet but he is fit enough to run," said Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford, "and the gloves are now off."

The streetfighter most likely to test Dubai Destination is Playapart. Gerard Butler's charge was only third under a moderate ride in the Dee Stakes at Chester and, the day before the £11,000 Derby forfeit is due, is given this chance to prove himself the bright prospect he looked when he won at Newmarket last month. Pat Eddery, who returns from suspension needing just 13 winners to pass Lester Piggott's career total of 4,493, replaces Eddie Ahern (himself suspended) on board.

Of the other Derby entrants, Coshocton comes from an unplaced run in the 2,000 Guineas (an effort his shrewd trainer, Michael Jarvis, insists should be ignored); Frankies Dream steps up from winning a maiden at Lingfield; and Sparkling Water drops down a grade after chasing home well-regarded Fight Your Corner in the Chester Vase. Highdown is not entered at Epsom but his narrow defeat of Moon Ballad at Newmarket was made to look good when the Godolphin horse won the Dante Stakes.

It will take a performance of some authority to rattle the dominance of Ballydoyle at the head of the Blue Riband betting. But despite the Predominate Stakes' recent record and the fact there is no Derby aspirant judged worthy of ante-post odds shorter than Dubai Destination's 25-1, today's events should not be treated with derision. Changing views is what Classic trials – and indeed Classics, standardsetters for a generation rather than championships – are all about. The 1979 three-year-old crop was not regarded as being much cop until Troy put himself among the greats with his performance at Epsom.

If the sport's juggernauts are carving the Classics up between them, there are pickings left at lower levels and yesterday the William Haggas-trained Dupont made it a European Guineas double when he added the German version at Cologne to his Italian success. Darryll Holland took the initiative on the Zafonic colt two furlongs out and came home three lengths clear of the favourite Next Desert.

Pearl is placed above Best Mate in rankings

Florida Pearl is rated 1lb superior to the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate in the National Hunt classifications announced yesterday.

Willie Mullins's King George VI Chase and Martell Cup winner is placed on a mark of 171 by the handicappers when assessed over three miles. He did beat Best Mate at Kempton on Boxing Day but the latter, who had an under-par Florida Pearl back in 11th at Cheltenham, comes out superior, on a mark of 169, at two and a half miles.

Flagship Uberalles, winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, is on the same mark at the top of the two-mile category.

With the novice chasers, the Tim Easterby-trained Barton and Martin Pipe's Royal Auclair come out top over three miles and two and a half miles on 153 and 152 respectively. However, the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy winner, Moscow Flyer, achieved a rating of 159 in the two-mile category.

The ill-fated Valiramix would have won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham had he survived that race in the view of the officials as they put him on 170, 10lb ahead of the winner Hors La Loi III and Istabraq. The French-trained Baracouda reigns supreme on a mark of 170 among staying hurdlers.

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
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

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'