Racing: Sheikh Mohammed and Coolmore send out big guns to square up in New York

To give Dylan Thomas his first start on dirt against a champion on that surface as formidable as Bernardini might appear to be looking for trouble. You can rest assured, however, that any perception of impudence or belligerence will not be recognised by the owners of either colt when they meet in New York this weekend.

For the antipathy between the two superpowers of the Turf is in danger of taking on a life of its own. Certainly both the Maktoum family and Coolmore Stud will be relieved to restore their competition to the racecourse, as their encounters elsewhere - in tribunals and auctions - have been inflating misapprehension in a damaging way.

Talk of a feud between the camps undoubtedly spices up the decorous world in which they seek their different types of fulfilment. But while clear divisions persist at the yearling sales, insiders insist that the theatrical events of recent days should not be treated as evidence of a broader schism.

Late on Tuesday evening, the disciplinary panel of the Horseracing Regulatory Authority decided to allow - in part, at any rate - an appeal by Seamus Heffernan against a 14-day suspension from the Ascot stewards for "team tactics" in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Heffernan's riding of Ivan Denisovich, one of three runners saddled by Aidan O'Brien, had incensed Frankie Dettori, who was caught wide on Librettist while George Washington, the chief hope of Ballydoyle, threaded his way through on the inside.

Emotions ran high at the hearing, notably when O'Brien gave vent to his indignation over the allegations. Dettori, in contrast, was sullen and curt in his evidence. In exonerating Heffernan of the specific charge the panel appeared to have been won over by the trainer's unusually demonstrative contribution. Yesterday, however, they confirmed that Heffernan would still have to serve six days for careless riding.

They did accept that Ivan Denisovich was running on his merits, and also that Heffernan had sought to avoid poached ground on the inside. But they rejected the core defence submission that Ivan Denisovich had drifted wider as a result of a bump from Araafa, who ran out of room between him and Librettist. In recording their deliberations yesterday, they asked: "If the horse on his outside had been George Washington rather than Librettist, would Heffernan have carried him wide? The Panel does not believe he would, and if he had, he would not have received the enthusiastic endorsement of his riding that O'Brien gave."

Heffernan yesterday expressed disappointment, but added: "The original charge was a serious allegation that would have been damaging to my career. They were wrong and they had to be proved wrong. It was a very small thing that got blown out of proportion."

Dettori remains angered by what happened on the day and by theories about his motivation. These have ranged from self-pity, to paranoia, to embarrassment over the way he exposed his mount on the outside.

Though he can justly note that he found degrees of support from the two inquiries, it remains that Dettori was the catalyst to a graceless, unnecessary melodrama. He was not encouraged in his protests by his employers, though they respect his resentment. And they emphatically deny suggestions that Dettori has been told by Sheikh Mohammed or anyone else that he is "not allowed" to ride for Ballydoyle.

Dettori, or someone on his behalf, has certainly given O'Brien that impression. Before the Ascot race, the trainer had noted the incongruity that Dettori was free to ride Coolmore horses trained elsewhere, and indicated that the Italian would have been a valued addition to the short list of substitutes for Kieren Fallon during his suspension from British tracks. If Dettori feels stricken by the crossfire, nobody can pretend he has imagined it. But his patrons vehemently reject the notion he has become a pawn in a petty game of point-scoring.

In terms of the game's reputation, the irony is that John Magnier, the Coolmore boss, and Sheikh Mohammed bring true sportsmanship to the track. And such will certainly be the case at Belmont on Saturday.

Bernardini is much the best colt to have emerged from the American wing of the Maktoum empire - though they have a second freak on the roll in Discreet Cat - and the Jockey Club Gold Cup will provide O'Brien with evidence of Dylan Thomas's competence to follow him to the Breeders' Cup Classic next month.

Michael Tabor, one of the Coolmore partners, yesterday compared the experiment to George Washington's comeback run prior to that stunning win at Ascot. "That's what Aidan is all about," he said. "As with George Washington at Goodwood, Saturday will not be this horse's Derby. Obviously you hope to win, but the main thing is you're training an athlete and the priority is to have him cherry-ripe on the big day."

Tabor revealed that the door is open for Dylan Thomas to return to familiar ground in the Breeders' Cup Turf should he fail to convince on Saturday. That race had been on the agenda for Hurricane Run, but he is now likely to run in the Emirates Champion Stakes at Newmarket. "For Dylan Thomas, this is a test to see whether he acts on dirt," Tabor said. "We haven't had the best experiences with Danehills [offspring] on that surface, but if he can do himself justice he'd go on to the Classic."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Spanchil Hill

(Wincanton 4.30)

NB: Beautiful Night

(Wincanton 3.00)

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links