Racing: Indian Haven ready to take some famous Ascot scalps

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The Independent Online

The form is there in the book for Indian Haven, a Classic victory in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, but so too are the names of the colt's owners and trainer, three north London businessmen and the former work-rider Paul D'Arcy. Set beside the Aga Khan, Sir Michael Stoute, André Fabre and the Lagardère family, long established in illustrious turf lore, they do not carry much clout.

That certainly seems the case as Indian Haven prepares to square up to the Aga's Kalaman and the Lagardères' Clodovil in tomorrow's St James's Palace Stakes, joint highlight of the opening day at Royal Ascot. While Kalaman was still being backed at 7-4 and 6-4 yesterday to step up on his win in the Heron Stakes, a mere Listed race, at Kempton last time, Indian Haven was on the drift and easy to back at 6-1.

Has D'Arcy's colt been underestimated? There is certainly enough in the form book to suggest that he has, including having beaten the 2,000 Guineas fourth and fifth, Tout Seul and Saturn, more decisively at the Curragh than Refuse To Bend had at Newmarket.

Peter Gleeson, co-owner of the colt along with Julian Smith and Lawrence Conway, believes the colt has been overlooked. "People see ours is trained by Paul D'Arcy and ridden by John Egan and the names are not as familiar, yet, as Stoute and Fallon. But Indian Haven is a proven Group One performer and Paul D'Arcy has trained him brilliantly. Having worked for Stoute for so many years he knows how to handle a decent horse.

"I don't think the French 2,000 Guineas [won by Clodovil] was as competitive as the Irish one and, though some may be put off by the fact that ours won on soft ground in Ireland, it was fast when he won the Free Handicap at Newmarket.

"He's equally good on firm or soft ground, the only thing is that soft ground might have slowed down some of the others.

"Paul tells me that Indian Haven worked fantastically on Saturday, but our gallops progress doesn't get reported quite as much as Michael Stoute's."

Indian Haven's owners are also D'Arcy's landlords, the trio having bought Green Ridge stables in Newmarket this year. Since then, progress has been rapid and while some trainers have been waiting decades for that elusive Classic success, D'Arcy now has another in his sights with the trio's Forest Magic, who has the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York as his target in preparation for the St Leger.

The Irish 2,000 Guineas second France, Hold That Tiger and Statue Of Liberty, who has not been seen in public since winning last season's Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting, represent Aidan O'Brien in the £250,000 contest, which is run around the Old Mile, while the German raider, Martillo, has been supplemented at a cost of £20,000 and will be ridden by regular jockey William Mongil.

ST JAMES'S PALACE STAKES (Ascot, tomorrow) Coral: 13-8 Kalaman, 4-1 Indian Haven, 9-2 Clodovil, 10-1 Zafeen, Hold That Tiger, 12-1 France, Martillo, Tout Seul, 25-1 others. Ladbrokes: 6-4 Kalaman, 7-2 Clodovil, 6-1 Indian Haven, 9-1 Zafeen, 10-1 France, 12-1 Tout Seul, 14-1 Hold That Tiger, Martillo, 25-1 Monsieur Bond, 25-1 Statue Of Liberty, 40-1 Hurricane Alan.