Racing: Motivator's Derby drill an inspiration for Murtagh

It was more a read-through than a dress rehearsal, but Motivator delivered his lines to perfection here yesterday. The Derby second favourite, partnered by his big-race jockey Johnny Murtagh, had a practice gallop on the idiosyncratic stage he will strut for real on 4 June and coped with Tattenham Hill and Corner like an old trouper.

It was more a read-through than a dress rehearsal, but Motivator delivered his lines to perfection here yesterday. The Derby second favourite, partnered by his big-race jockey Johnny Murtagh, had a practice gallop on the idiosyncratic stage he will strut for real on 4 June and coped with Tattenham Hill and Corner like an old trouper.

Given a lead by the four-year-old handicapper Magic Sting, a horse with experience round similarly-contoured Lingfield, Motivator stretched his legs over 10 of the Derby's 12 furlongs, came down the famous gradient in perfect balance and passed the post upsides his stablemate with Murtagh not having moved a muscle.

The Irishman returned to the weighing room with a broad smile. The reaction of trainer Michael Bell was more of relief that the awayday had gone without a hitch. "Very happy," he said as the puffing son of Montjeu was led round after his spin. "Obviously, they will go a bit quicker than that in the Derby, but he seemed to handle the bend OK, there was nothing negative from Johnny at all. He is very well in himself and this was a great chance to get a blow into him before York."

The Dante Stakes on the Knavesmire three weeks hence will be Motivator's first race of the year after plans to run him in the 2,000 Guineas (in which 29 now remain, with no shock withdrawals, after yesterday's latest confirmation stage) were abandoned. "We felt that to run over a mile in a fast and furious Classic would be the wrong mental preparation," said Bell. "But bringing him here for a taste of the racecourse on a fairly relaxed day was ideal."

The big, handsome bay colt is, apparently, the most laid-back of individuals in his box but he acquires a feistyness under saddle that needs tactful management, and although Epsom on Derby day is the theatre of dreams it can also be a crucible, a theatre of streams of nervous sweat.

Yesterday, Motivator was very much on his toes as he walked round the parade ring before his workout. "Mentally, he is a bit electric," said Bell. "He is one of those horses who is always on the go. But in his stable he is the most relaxed horse you could find. Three weeks ago, six of us went into his box to see him and he just laid down and told us to bugger off. I'd never seen a horse do that before."

Motivator's test-run was the only Derby pointer of the day, despite the presence of the so-called Blue Riband Trial during the afternoon's sport. Despite its name, the race is not one that habitually impacts on the real thing, though Daliapour went on to beat all bar Oath after winning six years ago. But yesterday's running had no relevance; neither Hallhoo, who came late and fast to score in the last stride, nor his victim Elliots World, the even-money favourite, holds the Derby entry.

The importance of familiarity with the track was underlined when Tender Falcon, a 20-1 shot ridden by Sam Hitchcott, edged out Balkan Knight by a short-head in the Great Metropolitan Handicap. "Being able to handle this place makes a hell of a difference," said Ivor Hodges, brother of trainer Ron, "and we knew there would be no problem for him; he won the amateurs' Derby last year."

The City and Suburban Stakes, the other of the two venerable old handicaps that have slipped down the glamour scale in recent years, went to King's Thought (7-1), who held on resolutely to keep Shahzan House at bay.

At Perth, a double for Paul Nicholls, who was £35,473 behind his arch-rival Martin Pipe in the race for the trainers' championship at the start of play, added a total of £22,828 to his challenge. And if naughty Cornish Rebel did not seem to care about what was at stake when he threw away the Scottish Grand National, the same anthropo-morphic charge could not be levelled at his stablemates My Will and Almost Broke yesterday.

My Will, beaten by Pipe's charge Locksmith in a photo four days ago, turned the tables when inching out another Pond House inmate, Joaaci, in a titanic head-to-head struggle up the run-in. Later, Almost Broke, seemingly beaten with rivals closing on both sides, thrust his muzzle in front with one last lunge. Both, of course, abetted by Ruby Walsh.

Hyperion's selections for today's other meetings:

Bath: 5.30 Pokermilliondotcom; 6.00 Fuel Cell; 6.30 Seasons Estates; 7.00 Nietzsche; 7.30 Auwitesweetheart; 8.00 Beejay.

Fontwell: 2.10 Penny Stall; 2.40 Premier Estate; 3.10 Goblet Of Fire; 3.40 Super Road Train; 4.10 Kappelhoff; 4.40 Victree; 5.10 Walcot Lad.

Southwell: 5.15 Muqarrar; 5.45 Norcroft; 6.15 Waterloo Corner; 6.45 Bogaz; 7.15 Lockstock; 7.45 Goose Chase.

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Seasons Estates (Bath 6.30)

NB: Tapa

(Bath 8.00)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?