Racing: Toller's chestnut in good shape for Oaks

If Oaks fancy Hanami was moving as awkwardly as her trainer, those who have backed her to third favouritism for the distaff crown would have cause to worry. Happily, though, the pretty chestnut's progress towards Epsom since her fine fifth in the 1,000 Guineas has been trouble-free.

It is only James Toller who is sporting the sling and strapping, the result of a disagreement with his hack on Newmarket Heath on Monday that resulted in a broken collarbone and slight concussion.

The accident does, however, give him the chance to prove he can train a Classic winner with one hand tied, even if not quite behind his back. In four days he has certainly become quite efficient at coping with the computer, paperwork and coffee-making at his Hamilton Road base, under the constraint.

Toller, 49, is one of life's natural pessimists but even he admits that a flicker has been there almost since day one where Hanami is concerned.

"It's what it's all about, isn't it?" he said yesterday. "Every year you look at your two-year-olds and hope that one of them is going to be special. On paper she was going to be late- maturing but she was one of those few who, right from the start, always did everything - cantering, going in the stalls, all the things they have to learn - so easily and without fuss. I'm used to disappointments and things going wrong and I'm trying not to get too excited. But she's great for morale in the yard."

The Hernando filly's juvenile success in a mile contest at her local course in early November, and her pedigree, spoke of middle-distances. "I trained her dam to win a two-mile handicap," said Toller, "and I couldn't really imagine she'd produce something with pace and gears.

"But early in the spring Hanami did a couple of very good bits of work with Duck Row which confirmed that perhaps I wasn't totally wrong and I was hopeful that she wouldn't disgrace us in the Guineas." Indeed she did not. Starting at 50-1, she had only the four high-class juveniles Russian Rose, Six Perfections, Intercontinental and Soviet Song in front of her and the subsequent Irish Guineas heroine Yesterday behind.

And like a few others, she had a troubled passage up the Rowley Mile. "I told Darryll [Holland] not to use her too much too early," said Toller. "But you can't expect your jockey to control what everyone else does and when two horses collide in front of you there's not much to be done. With a better run she might have been third but on the positive side she ran a good trial for the Oaks without having had too hard a time."

Hanami further warmed up last week for her Epsom experience by going the wrong way down the Rowley Mile from the seven-furlong marker, a trick that Toller learned in his days with Luca Cumani, used to prep 1977 Oaks second and third Freeze The Secret and Vaguely Deb. "Going that way brings in a left-handed bend and quite a downhill stretch," he said. "Hanami coped with it fine. She should cope with the Oaks atmosphere, too; she's quite full of it, but only in a nice, exuberant way."

Victory at Epsom would strike a blow for the so-called little man, for Hanami is home-bred by her owner, a publicity-shy (at this stage) banker currently based in Japan, the first foal from a mare who cost just 5,200 guineas, and Toller trains just 32 at Eve Lodge, his stables since his return to Newmarket three years ago.

His only Group One success to date, the Duke of Devonshire's 50-1 July Cup winner Compton Place, came during a five-year stint at Whitsbury, in Hampshire.

Toller would like more horses, but admits that he may only have himself to blame. "Maybe I don't put enough effort into it," he said, "but I'm a realist where horses are concerned and I don't like bullshitting, and perhaps owners who are taken in by bullshit aren't worth having anyway. Being back in Newmarket, where the facilities and infrastructure are so good, helps, but on the other hand someone looking to place a horse will have heard of M Stoute, not J Toller." A week today, that may well change.

OAKS (Epsom, 6 June) William Hill ante-post odds: 9-4 Yesterday, 7-2 Hi Dubai, 7-1 Hanami & Hammiya*, 12-1 Casual Look, 16-1 Halawanda & Ocean Silk, 20-1 Geminiani, Mezzo Soprano & Waldmark, 33-1 Lady Catherine, L'Ancresse & Summitville, 40-1 Gonfilia, High Praise & Snippets, 66-1 Hearts 'N Minds, 100-1 Inchberry, Moonsprite, Magnificent Bell & Thingmebob. (* needs to be supplemented).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleComedian launches stinging attack on PM
Life and Style
The collection displayed Versace’s softer side, with models wearing flowers and chiffon dresses in unusual colourings
fashionVersace haute couture review
News
Andy Murray shakes hands after defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the third round of Wimbledon, Saturday 4 July, 2015
Wimbledon
Arts and Entertainment
'The Leaf'
artYes, it's a leaf, but a potentially very expensive one
News
Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall for Double Fantasy Live
people'I wont let him destroy memory of John Lennon or The Beatles'
News
Could Greece leave the EU?
news
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: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'