Racing: Fabre and O'Brien misfire in Longchamp trials

Anyone who has backed the favourite for either the Stan James 2,000 Guineas or the Vodafone Derby will have squirmed uncomfortably during the big race at Longchamp yesterday. Two of the most powerful thoroughbred arsenals in Europe had wheeled some heavy artillery on to the battlefield, but instead ended up spraying each other with water pistols. There may be alarming consequences for the value of ante-post vouchers about George Washington or Visindar.

So far as Visindar is concerned, the idea had been that Carlotamix would extend his unbeaten record on his reappearance in the Prix de Fontainebleau, so leaving his stablemate free to run at Epsom. Carlotamix, who is also owned by the Aga Khan, would then keep the home fires burning in the Prix du Jockey Club, run at Chantilly the day after the Derby.

Unfortunately he departed from that script with a stammering, choking display, soon off the bridle and never offering the remotest challenge. That he was far below his best can be measured by the fact that the race was won with authority by Stormy River, who had finished behind him in a Group One race at Saint-Cloud last autumn.

André Fabre has had some bitter experiences in the Derby - the race was the end of the road for Pennekamp, among others - and only the contrasting enthusiasm of his patron, who has such a good record in the race, was ever going to persuade him to risk Visindar there. But if Carlotamix is not going to fill the breach at Chantilly, Fabre is likely to turn some powerful arguments against the project.

For one thing, Visindar is by no means guaranteed to stay a mile and a half, and nowadays they only go 10 and a half furlongs at Chantilly. He is also a big colt, with a lavish stride, and may lack the peculiar agility required round Tattenham Corner. The intention is for Visindar to run in the Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud on 15 May, partly to test him on a left-handed course, but it may be that the most significant battles are to be fought off the track.

Stormy River is in the Guineas but may stay at home for the local version, and the most pertinent Newmarket clues may have come down the field. Aidan O'Brien ran two colts, both accomplished performers last season, and both looked extremely rusty. Aussie Rules did find some belated momentum to finish fourth, but the fact is that he is just about the only Ballydoyle colt to have seen out his race this spring.

Half an hour later, for instance, Septimus ran a subdued race in the Prix la Force while, over at Leopardstown, Mountain could never land a blow in the PW McGrath Ballysax Stakes. The overwhelming impression is that the Ballydoyle horses are fumbling for the gearstick, and there are now just a dozen days before George Washington lines up for the Guineas. Two fillies have won this spring but the stable has drawn a blank from 14 other runners in Britain and Ireland so far.

George Washington, the champion juvenile, remains no better than 9-4 favourite, yet it demands a giddy leap of faith to expect a career-best performance from a colt who used his only public outing since last year to exhibit the kinks in his temperament. He breezed after racing at the Curragh a fortnight ago, but only after proving reluctant to exit the parade ring and then darting through a gap in the rails when going down.

Kieren Fallon's duties at Longchamp prevented him taking the mount on Ouija Board in Hong Kong yesterday, but he will have been an interested observer of his deputy's performance in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

As Frankie Dettori angled the mare wide with two furlongs to run, the Sha Tin commentator exclaimed that she would "have to be Wonder Woman to win from there". Marooned towards the rear at halfway, Ouija Board still had several lengths to find with the leader, Irridescence. In somehow managing to share a photo-finish, she certainly made it hard for anyone to mistake her rider for Superman.

Ouija Board finished so well that she was beaten only two heads, but Dettori deflected any criticism towards the mare herself. "She broke slowly and didn't have the pace to go with them early on," he said. "The winner had a four-length start on me and she has made up three-and-three-quarters of that. At a mile and a half she would have been the winner, I just ran out of track and things didn't go her way."

Ed Dunlop, her trainer, had not disguised his irritation with Fallon's tactics when Ouija Board finished fourth in Dubai last month, but there was no way she could have shaken up the winner that day. Here, however - albeit against rather lesser horses - she showed that her acceleration remains as potent as ever.

Dunlop indicated that she would be stepped back up in distance next time, and happily she is likely to do so on home turf, either in the Vodafone Coronation Cup at Epsom or the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot.

Irridescence was confirming the international calibre of her rider and trainer, the South Africans Weichong Marwing and Mike de Kock, and may yet follow Ouija Board to Europe this summer. Norse Dancer, meanwhile, ran deplorably under Darryll Holland and trailed in last. "He did not attack the gate and that was that," the jockey said. "He was in a hopeless position from then on."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Colmcille (Taunton 7.15)

NB: Strategic Mount

(Windsor 8.00)

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
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

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?