Temptations come in many forms but none so beguiling to a trainer as the thought of a runner in the Derby. Marcus Tregoning, the master of Kingwood House in Lambourn, has no such beast at the moment. But after yesterday's Predominate Stakes, the last of the recognised domestic Blue Riband trials, he may have to lash himself to the mast to resist the siren call.
His charge High Accolade was never entered for Epsom but the colt produced such a pleasing performance on a blustery day here on the Sussex Downs to take the 11-furlong contest that the first thing that sprang to most minds was the question of whether or not to venture the supplementary fee to get him to post on 7 June. The trouble is, £90,000 is not exactly back-pocket change.
"It is a lot of money and basically you'd have to run into a place to get it back," he said, "but on the other hand it costs more than that to buy a decent yearling with much less of a guarantee." The see-sawing continued: "There is the route of the King Edward VII Stakes and the Irish Derby, but there is only one day out at Epsom and he stays and quickens, and while most horses can do one or the other, not that many do both. And he was at home on the undulations, but then perhaps he would be, because he's trained on downland.
"He does absolutely nothing at home and honestly you'd learn very little about him on the gallops. We thought he seemed a nice sort of horse when he won at Bath last month but this was obviously a huge improvement on that and I am sure that there is more to come from him."
Yesterday, five of the seven runners were in line abreast as the downhill charge to the post began a quarter of a mile out. It was the other two, though, who dominated the finish. Like one of the windborne clouds above, High Accolade, an 8-1 shot, scudded forward going to the final furlong and Unigold, a Derby entry who will be left in the lists at today's second forfeit stage, followed him through, a length and a half behind.
High Accolade joined Tregoning last autumn from Richard Hannon after his owner, Lady Tennant, decided on a change of scenery for the bright bay son of champion miler Mark of Esteem. The colt's partner in the saddle this season, Martin Dwyer, has liked what he has felt so far. "He travels, he has a turn of foot and we certainly haven't got to the bottom of him yet," he said. "He doesn't much like being crowded in among horses but as soon as I switched him and gave him daylight he picked up in an instant."
This particular trial has not produced a subsequent Derby winner since Troy took both races 24 years ago but if High Accolade's performance did nothing to disturb the Irish hegemony at the head of the market it surely put him in the must-be-considered outsider category, should he run. Tregoning has 12 days to make up his mind. He said: "I think, the 2,000 Guineas apart, the trials in this country have been a bit suspect. For now, for us, it really is all up in the air."
Richard Hughes is to appeal against a five-day ban (which would rule him out of the French Derby) imposed after he rode Summer View into 11th place in the second race, a 19-runner mile handicap. The Roger Charlton-trained gelding was towards the rear most of the way and the stewards felt that he was not ridden to obtain the best possible placing. They also fined Charlton £800 and banned the horse for 30 days.
* Islington, scheduled to make her season debut in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on Sunday, is likely to be re-routed to the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown on Tuesday. After the star four-year-old filly had a racecourse gallop on the Rowley Mile yesterday morning her trainer, Michael Stoute, said: "Soft ground does not suit her and the reports I'm getting about the going in Ireland are not encouraging. But she does need a race before Royal Ascot."Reuse content