Racing: Episode reveals more bad news for Godolphin

It is far better to have an embarrassment of riches than to be humiliated by them. A merciless display of galloping by Septimus here yesterday complicated the dilemma facing Kieren Fallon, who already had a choice between Horatio Nelson, Dylan Thomas and Papal Bull in the Vodafone Derby. For Frankie Dettori, in contrast, the great race looks certain to prove elusive for another year after Palace Episode staggered home stone last in the Totesport Dante Stakes.

The 2006 Classics are proving a radically different experience for the Ballydoyle and Godolphin stables. In the 2,000 Guineas, Opera Cape finished last behind George Washington. Godolphin could not even muster a runner in the French version, again won by Aidan O'Brien with Aussie Rules. Now it seems as though Saeed bin Suroor is unlikely to saddle a runner in the Derby, where O'Brien will be fussing around the parade ring with at least three.

The chances are he will end up hoisting his stable jockey on to Septimus, who had run a rusty race in France on his reappearance but was a different animal this time. He has certainly developed into a gorgeous colt since last year, but the overnight downpour had ensured a test that would call for more functional virtues.

Dettori was determined to dictate the pace on Palace Episode, having found conditions inimical to patient tactics on Portrayal in the previous race. But the little colt was never able to impose himself, and by halfway Michael Kinane had decided to set a more purposeful tempo on Best Alibi. By that stage, the inexperienced Leningrad had already squandered too much energy in rear - much as Proclamation did in this race last year - while Fallon, as usual, was restlessly pestering his mount into a rhythm.

The Sadler's Wells colt was in full flow halfway up the straight, taking over the lead 300 yards out and requiring just the one slap to draw eight lengths clear of Best Alibi. It was another 11 lengths back to the outsider, Snowqualmie Boy - a telling measure of the attritional nature of this contest. Certainly it was a long way home for Palace Episode, whose stride halved at the top of the straight, while the winner was plunging ever deeper into his stamina reserves.

Septimus will certainly get the extra distance at Epsom, for which he is now down to 5-1 with Ladbrokes behind Visindar on 6-4. "To go away from that field, on ground he wouldn't really like, and cross the line with his ears pricked - you'd have to be impressed," Fallon said. "I was, anyway - big time. He wasn't doing a tap. He had come on a lot for his run in France, and I think he'll improve again for this."

The jockey expects that O'Brien himself will decide which colt he should ride. "We haven't worked together very long, but it has worked every time so far," he said. "I have always really liked Dylan Thomas and I haven't ridden him or Horatio Nelson this season. There are still a couple of weeks to go and it's a good position to be in. Aidan's horses always improve, they seem to transform from one race to the next."

Palace Episode had beaten Septimus and Best Alibi when winning the Racing Post Trophy for Kevin Ryan last autumn. The desert sun still shimmered on his skin, but the little colt never looked an obvious candidate to progress at three and Simon Crisford declined to make excuses. Equally sensibly, the Godolphin manager also resisted panic. "I'd like us to have a few more runners before we start getting too concerned," he said. "It has been a slow start but there is still a long time to go this season."

There will be many making hastier judgements, but this is a familiar routine. As usual Godolphin will be winning big races from midsummer onwards, chiefly with older horses recruited from elsewhere. Sheikh Mohammed does have legitimate cause for concern in one respect, however. For the Classics are once again exposing an unacceptable gulf in standard between the horses bought and bred for Godolphin and their natural antagonists at Ballydoyle. If he thinks that boycotting the Coolmore stallions is a smart solution, he had better think again.

Hyperion's Selections

AINTREE: 6.10 Muckle Flugga 6.40 Another Club Royal 7.15 Estate 7.45 Jack The Giant 8.20 Lance Toi 8.55 Fight The Feeling

Chris McGrath

Nap: Ingratitude

(Nottingham 4.15)

NB: George The Best

(Hamilton 9.10)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions