Johnston hopes Bijou can hoof it

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The Independent Online
Punters are all too familiar with horses which ran as if they had only three legs, but the leading British challenger for the Irish 2,000 Guineas, it seems, very nearly became a colt with three-and-a-half. Mark Johnston, the trainer of Bijou D'Inde, revealed yesterday that he is still a little concerned about his horse's recent encounter with an over-enthusiastic pedicurist.

A horse's hoof is, in effect, its toenail, and like its human equivalent needs to be trimmed from time to time. When it was Bijou D'Inde's turn last week, however, someone got carried away. "We trimmed back one of his feet on Friday," Johnston said yesterday, "but on his near-fore we went too far and one foot was a good half-inch longer than the other. He was plated this morning after the injury and I'm going to go home tonight and hope everything is OK. He is due to go to Ireland this evening. I am not worried about the prospect of soft ground, what concerns me is the foot problem."

As yet, however, the trainer's concern has not filtered through to the ante-post market on tomorrow's Classic at the Curragh. Backers will do well to beat the 3-1 offered by Ladbrokes against Bijou D'Inde, a price which brackets him with Beauchamp King, who was eight lengths adrift of Johnston's runner when he was narrowly beaten by Mark Of Esteem and Even Top in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The firm's favourite is Spinning World, who was unlucky in running when second in the French Guineas at Longchamp.

Looking a little further into the Classic future, 23 fillies remain in the Oaks after the latest forfeit stage yesterday, although at least one will probably be added to the field at a cost of pounds 15,000 on 31 May. Even so, it will be a surprise if the eventual field stretches too far into double figures. Ten runners have gone to post for the last two runnings of the Oaks, and in a Classic which has nothing like the pulling power of the Derby, it should again come down to a contest between one representative from each of the major yards or owners.

Godolphin, which will be chasing its third Oaks in as many years, has Pricket, the strong ante-post favourite, Bint Shadayid and Shawanni among the acceptors, while Lady Carla represents Henry Cecil, whose Magnificient Style may yet be supplemented. Also among the entries is Zafzala, who goes on trial for Epsom in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Sunday. She is the chosen mount of John Murtagh, Ireland's champion jockey, from John Oxx's three runners.

Lanfranco Dettori, who rode both Balanchine and Moonshell to win the Oaks for Godolphin, returned to the saddle after a 10-day suspension at Goodwood yesterday, and to the winner's enclosure just a few minutes later. Taipan, trained by John Dunlop, was a very easy winner for Dettori in the 12-furlong handicap. Indeed, as Dunlop wryly pointed out, "I think even Willie Carson could have won on that one."

Dettori missed several winning rides at York's Dante meeting last week, but it appears that he put his unexpected free time to good use. "I wanted to keep away from racing because it can get frustrating watching all those winners go in," Dettori said. "So I went back to Italy for four days. I then went to Ireland with Barney Curley where I stayed in a retreat and sponsored a golf tournament in aid of the Society of Missionaries in Africa.

"They do a lot of work for people in Africa and I was very happy to do it. I am lucky to be in the position I am and want to give back as much as I can."

THE OAKS (Epsom, 7 June) The 23 acceptors at yesterday's forfeit stage: Altamura (trained by J Gosden), Bathilde (M Stoute), Bint Salsabil (J Dunlop), Bint Shadayid (Saeed bin Suroor), Camporese (P Chapple-Hyam), Ceirseach (J Bolger, Irl), Dance Design (D Weld, Irl), Fairlight Down (P Cole), Faraway Waters (D Arbuthnot), Honest Guest (M Tompkins), Lady Carla (H Cecil), Luna Wells (A Fabre, Fr), Matiya (B Hanbury), Mezzogiorno (G Wragg), Moody's Cat (B Hills), Pricket (Saeed bin Suroor), Quota (H Cecil), Shawanni (Saeed bin Suroor), Shirley Venture (S Woods), Silk Masque (P Chapple-Hyam), Solar Crystal (H Cecil), Trilby (P Cole), Zafzala (J Oxx, Irl). Fillies may be supplemented at a cost of pounds 15,000 on 31 May.

BETTING: Ladbrokes: 11-8 Pricket, 6-1 Lady Carla, 8-1 Bint Salsabil, Luna Wells, 10-1 Honest Guest, 12-1 Mezzogiorno, 16-1 Camporese, Quota, 20-1 Solar Crystal, 33-1 others. Coral: 6-5 Pricket, 6-1 Magnificient Style (requires supplementing), 8-1 Bint Salsabil, Lady Carla, Luna Wells, 12-1 Mezzogiorno, 14-1 Honest Guest, 20-1 Bathilde, Camporese, Tulipa (requires supplementing), 25-1 Quota, Solar Crystal, 33-1 others. William Hill: 5-4 Pricket, 8-1 Bint Salsabil, Lady Carla, 10-1 Luna Wells, Magnificient Style, Mezzogiorno, Honest Guest, 20-1 Camporese, Quota, Solar Crystal, 33-1 others. Tote: 11-8 Pricket, 7-1 Lady Carla, 8-1 Luna Wells, 9-1 Magnificient Style, 10-1 Bint Salsabil, Honest Guest, 12-1 Mezzogiorno, 14-1 Bathilde, 20-1 Bint Shadayid, Camporese, Solar Crystal, 25-1 Faraway Waters, Quota, 33-1 others.

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