Roscius scores but Godolphin rely on Bests

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The Independent Online

He has stamina to spare, a touch of class and a willingness to battle when required from which many racehorses could learn a valuable lesson. In short, Roscius, who won the Predominate Stakes at Goodwood yesterday, has most of the qualities you would look for in a Derby contender, but as someone pointed out in the unsaddling enclosure afterwards, ''there is a lot of difference between being a contender, and being a Derby winner''.

He has stamina to spare, a touch of class and a willingness to battle when required from which many racehorses could learn a valuable lesson. In short, Roscius, who won the Predominate Stakes at Goodwood yesterday, has most of the qualities you would look for in a Derby contender, but as someone pointed out in the unsaddling enclosure afterwards, ''there is a lot of difference between being a contender, and being a Derby winner''.

Since the person doing the pointing out was Simon Crisford, racing manager to Roscius's owners, Godolphin, it seems fair to assume that the Predominate, in theory the last of the recognised Derby trials, has once again failed to live up to its billing. Twelve months ago, Godolphin won the race with Dubai Millennium, who started favourite at Epsom but finished down the field before going on to prove himself one of the finest racehorses on the planet. This time next year though, Troy, in 1979, will surely still be the last Predominate winner to have followed up at Epsom.

But there should still be good races to be won with Rosius, who hit the front early in the straight and kept finding more when St Expedit, a maiden winner at humdrum Pontefract on his previous outing, came at him through the final quarter mile. On the face of it, the form is nothing special, but the two of them finished six lengths clear of Bogus Dreams, and it is only fair to give a game horse like Roscius the benefit of the doubt.

The French Derby is one option for the winner, although he might yet run at Epsom as back-up to Best Of The Bests, who remains the Godolphin operation's principal Derby contender and was yesterday cut from 16-1 to 12-1 by Ladbrokes. Roscius and St Expedit can both be backed at 40-1 with Hills.

''Roscius won a good trial in Dubai, and we are absolutely delighted with the way he has run today,'' Crisford said. ''We will talk to Sheikh Mohammed, but the French Derby is an option to consider. He will stay forever and get one and a half miles no problem, and obviously has a touch of class, but Best Of The Bests still represents our best chance at Epsom. He simply has more quality [than Roscius], and he ran a top-class trial in the Dante Stakes."

Away from the track, Derby news yesterday concerned Beat Hollow, the 5-1 second-favourite for the Classic with most bookmakers, whose winning form in the Newmarket Stakes on 5 May was franked when Entisar, third home on the Rowley mile, completed a 321-1 four-timer for Frankie Dettori here yesterday.

Beat Hollow has not run since Newmarket, having succumbed to an infection shortly afterwards, and Teddy Beckett, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, warned yesterday that the Henry Cecil-trained colt will not run in the Derby unless he is back to peak fitness.

''The horse is well, he's come on and progressed,'' Beckett said, ''and luckily for him the mucus in his lungs was spotted pretty early and he's clear now. But it's always a worry preparing a horse for a race like the Derby and he won't run unless he's 100 per cent.''

Attention moves to the Oaks at Goodwood this afternoon, when the Lupe Stakes could provide a two-minute dose of bitter reality to the punters who have backed Love Divine, another Cecil runner, down to 7-1 for the Classic at Epsom on 9 June. Those odds are short enough for any maiden filly who has just one run behind her, but bordering on madness when she is not even entered for the Oaks itself.

These days, of course, all is not lost for the owners of promising fillies without a Classic entry, who can enter at the last minute, but at a price. £15,000 is the supplementary fee, and even millionaire racehorse owners think twice before throwing that sort of money away (which is, of course, probably why they are millionaires in the first place).

Love Divine will probably need to win convincingly this afternoon, otherwise the Lordship Stud will hang on to its money, and the punters who have backed her each-way will lose theirs.

Spinning Top (next best 2.40), who showed immense promise when winning her first race at Lingfield, could be the one to make them curse their luck (and hasty judgement). EVENTUALITY (nap 3.40), well drawn in two, and Strahan (3.10) may help to ease the pain.

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