Racing: Kong is king as Epsom beckons

Trials are just that, and even an apparently inconclusive one in the annual search for an Epsom superstar cannot be dismissed until the proving ground on the historic downs 27 days hence. Though the hitherto-unheralded Kong won the eliminator here by only a neck, there were positive points to take from his display, and donkey he ain't.

Trials are just that, and even an apparently inconclusive one in the annual search for an Epsom superstar cannot be dismissed until the proving ground on the historic downs 27 days hence. Though the hitherto-unheralded Kong won the eliminator here by only a neck, there were positive points to take from his display, and donkey he ain't.

The contours of Surrey's lesser track bear more than a passing resemblance to those of its famous neighbour, and for that reason have been a time-honoured test of a horse's balance and manoeuvrability down a hill and round a corner. Only eight horses, though, have passed the first examination and graduated with honours from the second, most recently High-Rise seven years ago. Bookmaker reaction was disparate about Kong becoming the ninth, from Coral's 14-1 to Ladbrokes' 25-1.

All six competitors yesterday held the Derby engagement, and after Melrose Avenue led into the straight at an ordinary gallop, Richard Quinn on Kong took the initiative. The thrice-raced son of Sadler's Wells was the only maiden in the field, but belied his inexperience by battling on well when tackled by the 6-4 favourite, Walk In The Park. In the final furlong the pair put daylight between themselves and Melrose Avenue, a length- and-a-half third.

"Today was all about learning," said Quinn, "and I was really pleased with that. He carried himself well, and the bend here is much more severe than at Epsom. He'd never been in front before and I had to go sooner than I wanted because the pace was so slow, but he coped like an old hand. There is a lot more to come."

Kong, a narrow and rather unlucky loser of his maiden at Newbury last month, is trained by John Dunlop, whose previous winner of the trial, Silver Patriarch, beat all bar Benny The Dip at Epsom in a finish of inches. "I'm not sure what the worth of the form is and we won't know yet," he said, "but this is a nice sort of horse, and one who is progressing. He's amenable and sensible, he came down the hill easily and had no problems with the distance. If he stays sound and healthy I'm sure he'll acquit himself well next month."

The slow pace did not help Walk In The Park, a long-striding son of Montjeu who was rather flat-footed from off the pace as Kong went on but kept on well under Kieren Fallon once he hit his stride. His French connections have not given up on the Derby with the colt, who was making his three-year-old debut. "He is mentally much stronger this year," said Georgina Hammond, the wife of trainer John, "and will be much, much better off a proper gallop."

Walk In The Park, out of Aidan O'Brien's first Classic winner, the Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Classic Park, carries the colours of Michael Tabor, who also has an interest in O'Brien's Storm Cat colt Indigo Cat, winner of the 10-furlong maiden that followed the Derby Trial. This one, too, has a Classic-winning dam, Bluemamba, who took a French 1,000 Guineas, and her son, racing for the first time, beat Gems Of Araby, going away, by three-quarters of a length. "Really good," was Fallon's reaction.

O'Brien was also pleased, according to the Ballydoyle travelling head lad Pat Keating, though Indigo Cat, who will further his experience in the Predominate Stakes at Goodwood next week, is out with the betting washing at this stage at 40-1. The Co Tipperary maestro seems to have a convincing Derby hand this year - his Chester trial winner, Gypsy King, is the current favourite - but the picture is sure to develop and change, starting this afternoon at Leopardstown and continuing at York this week.

Five go for today's Derrinstown Trial, including Grand Central from Ballydoyle; the John Oxx-trained Alayan, who beat him four lengths last month; and Fracas, from David Wachman's yard, whose San-down Trial win was franked by the third-placed Hattan's win at Chester last week. In the Dante Stakes at York on Thursday, Ballydoyle's Albert Hall takes on the Derby second favourite, Motivator.

Yesterday's Oaks Trial produced a double for Dunlop in the compact, athletic shape of Cassydora, a thoroughly convincing six-length winner in a time more than four seconds faster than the colts' contest. "I was delighted with the way she raced," said Dunlop. "In the May Hill last year she went off too fast, but today she settled well and quickened well." Dunlop added that Hesmonds Stud's daughter of Darshaan, whose effort elevated her from 40-1 for the premier fillies' Classic to around 10-1, and Kong will be available for viewing at his Arundel stable's annual open charity day three weeks today.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Head of Technology

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Head of Technology needed for a Outsta...

Maths teachers needed in Cromer

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teachers requir...

Head of Business Studies

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Head of Business Studies needed for a ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits