It was a busy old business for David Elsworth yesterday. All those horses to supervise and all those journalists to amuse as members of the Fourth Estate swapped the baton to interview the trainer at Whitsbury Manor stables.
The slot for The Independent came just after noon, and Elsworth was quick to accommodate. "You'll be wanting to get down the pub won't you," he said, in ignorance of the press's temperance policy during working hours.
It was, however, a suggestion which exemplified Elsworth's appeal. He is good company, good copy and even good at his designated art, which is why Indian Creek cannot be written off in Saturday's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, despite his relatively extravagant odds. The five-year-old is trading at around 14-1, which was also the price when he collected the Hardwicke Stakes over course and distance at the Royal meeting.
"He's the same price here as he was at Ascot, which just shows you how overpriced he was then," Elsworth said. "If I were making the book I'd make him about 10-1. He's not a donkey and he'll run very well. He might even win."
Indian Creek is only Elsworth's second runner in the race after Sapience, who was fourth 11 years ago. The statistics suggest he is up his name without a paddle as Park Top in 1969 was the last Hardwicke winner to graduate in the high summer champion championship.
However, now that Indian Creek is proven over 12 furlongs, Elsworth believes his horse has a squeak in a devilishly difficult contest. "It's a very tough race," he said. "There's a couple of Derby winners in there, the Eclipse winner and the very best older horses. Anything that's any good is showing up. We've won a Group Two, but sometimes they're Group Ones in disguise, and you can get Group Ones that are really Group Threes.
"This is a horse that if I had a fancied one there I'd rather he wasn't running. I don't care which horse I trained in the race. I'd be worried. He wants switching off early on because he pootles along and then picks up. More importantly, he needs plenty of pace.
"What you can say is that the Hardwicke was his first time over a mile and a half and it seemed to suit him. If you fancy him you can get comfort from that. I'd been thinking about it for a long time, but he was pretty good over a mile and a quarter, taking on the best and he was in the same street as them. His style of racing suggests he could stay anything, because he does nothing and then finishes. He's a very good horse.
"He's been on a high for the last six weeks or two months and I just hope he's as good as he was on Hardwicke day. There's not much wrong with him and it's probably the trainer that's got the jitters more than he has."
Indian Creek's task was made no easier yesterday when it was announced that another five-year-old, Luca Cumani's Eclipse Stakes winner Falbrav, would be taking up the cudgel.
The news came after a morning piece of work in the hands of big-race jockey Darryll Holland. "We wanted to go as close as possible before making a decision to check on the horse's well-being," explained Cumani. "We are satisfied that he has recovered very well from the Eclipse and that he is in excellent form."
Holland himself was considerably more upbeat. "The ground should be on the fast side, which is great, and I just hope they stop watering now," he said. "We had a good draw at Sandown so now we are just hoping the gods look down favourably on us again.
"As far as I am concerned it is simple - if the horse stays he will win. He showed a great cruising speed at Sandown and really quickened up well. He is a class act and it is an honour to ride him."
* Victory Moon was yesterday cut to 7-1 from 10-1 by William Hill for Saturday's King George while Coral go 10-1 from 12-1 after laying a bet of £5,245.
Racing in brief: Media puzzle in Ebor
* Melbourne Cup winner Media Puzzle is among 99 entries announced yesterday for the Ebor Handicap at York on 20 August. Trainer Dermot Weld's six-year-old has been given 9st 11lb in the £190,000 feature event. Weld has also entered Mobasher (8st 11lb), Direct Bearing (8st 4lb) and Lowlander (8st 10lb). Aidan O'Brien, successful with Mediterranean two years ago, has just one entry - Handel. Sir Michael Stoute's Hawk Flyer has been installed the 10-1 favourite with William Hill, ahead of his stablemate Manoubi on 12-1.
* Fast ground is predicted for Glorious Goodwood which starts next Tuesday. Seamus Buckley, clerk of the course, said: "The ground is good to firm, good in places. We have been watering for the last three weeks."
* Jockey Fergal Lynch was yesterday banned for six days by the Jockey Club disciplinary panel after admitting he acted in an abusive manner at a stewards' inquiry at Ripon on 7 July.Reuse content