The prospect of the Derby winner, North Light, immediately recovering a reputation sullied in the Irish equivalent have been dimmed following the revelation that the colt is injured and will miss the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday week.
North Light, who finished second to Grey Swallow at the Curragh, returned from the Classic with soreness in his right hind leg. "North Light is sound and has resumed cantering but we have decided not to run him in the King George & Queen Elizabeth," Sir Michael Stoute, his trainer, said yesterday. "We will have a discussion with his connections before deciding his future programme."
The son of Danehill was a one-and-a-half-length winner of the Blue Riband last month before trying to add the Irish equivalent to his chest. But although North Light confirmed his superiority over the Epsom second, Rule Of Law, and third, Let The Lion Roar, Grey Swallow emerged the half-length winner.
The colt came out of the race lame and has been undergoing intensive physiotherapy. Peter Reynolds, racing manager to owners the Weinstock family, said: "He came out of the race with a muscle problem and Sir Michael has been working on it."
Injuries to Derby winners are always bad news, almost as much to the racing public as connections. In the modern age it does not take much for a Classic colt to be retired and there must now be worries about how many races remain in North Light's career. He is entered in the International Stakes at York next month, but that hardly seems a race which will play to his strengths.
On a previous visit to the Knavesmire, in the Dante Stakes, and in the Derby itself, North Light seemed to suggest his forte was running the will out of his rivals from some way out. In Ireland, he was caught out by a burst of speed from Grey Swallow and he would be vulnerable over 10 furlongs to an assassin's pounce.
In truth, the most suitable race for North Light would be the St Leger, but there is no chance of him running in a Classic which has become a virtual death for any horse purporting to be a stallion prospect.
Commercial concerns suggest he will probably go the same way as another Freemason Lodge runner and contest the Prix Niel on the road to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the single remaining feather that North Light could put in his cap.
The sad thought is that he may follow a similar route in another sense as his predecessor, Kris Kin, who never won another race after an afternoon of glory at Epsom.
Stoute's hopes in the King George now rest on the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Gamut, who is 7-1 from 10-1 for the race with Coral. Godolphin's Doyen, an impressive winner of the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, has been made the even-money favourite, from 5-4, with the same firm, while French raider Vallee Enchantee is 6-1 from 8-1. Coral have also removed another Godolphin entry in Papineau from their list after it was revealed he too has suffered a setback. Ladbrokes offer 10-1 with a run.
More palatable news arrived yesterday with the announcement that the season's leading filly, Attraction, has not been diminished by the first defeat of her career in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket last week, and remains on course for the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville next month.
"We have been giving her a nice break, which has always been the intention after four quick runs in Group One company," Deirdre Johnston, assistant to and wife of trainer Mark, said yesterday. "Those races are so tough and she has been unbelievable. We all still go and give her a cuddle every day as she's just fantastic."
Nap: Theatre Lady
NB: Burley Flame
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