Lammtarra heads new world order; The Derby: Record-breaking winner sets seal on Dubai experiment, but Saturday trial for Blue Riband fails to live up to hopes

Richard Edmondson reflects on the unqualified success of a training revolution and a qualified disaster on the Downs

Racing's book of presumed logic is now redundant and should be used as a either a doorstop, paperweight or plant-pot stand. In winning the Derby on Saturday, Lammtarra not only poured bleach on the tenets of the sport, he also confirmed that a new level for the turf has been reached.

The chestnut colt was the latest of the Godolphin horses to win a major race after having been hothoused in Dubai over the winter. The Maktoum family have now won the last seven Classics between them and Godolphin's contribution has been the last two Oaks plus a Derby. If anyone believes the Emirates sun is not shining imperiously over the racing globe this morning there is probably a bed waiting for them somewhere.

Lammtarra's appearance in the Derby would have been the stuff of smirks for traditionalists. He had run just once as a juvenile, when trained by the late Alex Scott, and was making his seasonal debut on Saturday. This is not the purest of backgrounds for those whose lessons have been passed down as items of Victoriana.

Lammtarra, who overcame the loss of a shoe in the race was, in fact, close to death from a lung abscess just over three months ago, but was nursed back to health, inevitably for the Godolphin operation, by a "team".

The boys from the Middle East have been rather disturbed by recent reports that Saeed bin Suroor, the nominated trainer for the company, is little more than a bonnet buffer for Sheikh Mohammed. Suroor, a slim and timid man, has been painted as a figure as tangible as the spouses of Messrs Columbo and Arthur Daley, but Simon Chrisford, the Godolphin racing manager, described the former policeman as an integral cog.

The line of command seems to be this: the framework for training programmes comes from Sheikh Mohammed himself and the conditioning is conducted by bin Suroor and Jeremy Noseda, a one-time assistant to another of the Sheikh's trainers, John Gosden.

If Sheikh Mohammed was miffed that his colours, carried here into second place by Tamure, had been thwarted, he hid it well. "To bring a horse from Dubai to win here is worth winning four Derbys myself," he said.

The Sheikh was even able to forget the miserable performance of the hot favourite, Pennekamp, who returned lame. Even so, his connections seem to have been convinced that his future lies over a mile and, after recovery, Andre Fabre's colt will drop back to the eight furlongs of his 2,000 Guineas victory. Saturday's other great disappointment, Spectrum, is now to be considered for the leading 10-furlong races.

Sheikh Mohammed meanwhile is waiting to pat the winning owner, his 19- year-old nephew Saeed, on the head. Saeed, who watched the race on television in the Gulf, was formerly a student at Gordonstoun, where cold baths and a military lifestyle have made a man of many, including the heir to our throne. Despite this apparent vindication of the Godolphin modus operandi, there will be no cranking up of the policy. Once again, a maximum of 40 horses will travel to Dubai this winter, a number that the Sheikh can happily enjoy as he drives up from government business to the Al Quoz stables in his Range Rover.

Nevertheless, the Sheikh's British trainers will still be suffering from violent tremors. They face the prospect of having some of the best horses transferred from their care this autumn and then returning to give what remains in their string a good hiding. It may be that they have to forsake their annual Caribbean holidays this winter and send one of their charges instead.

If this is a sad statistic of the modern times, it will be no more surprising than attendance numbers that were produced yesterday. Saturday's figure was said to be 54,266, which was three per cent up on the previous year, despite the fact that the attendance announced then was well over 100,000.

Epsom officials decided this week that the method of counting crowds for the previous year, and the years before that, were erroneous. While people have been happy to believe that most of London has turned up in the past, it seems there has been a travesty.

"The old figure fell into a credibility trap," Edward Gillespie, the managing director of Epsom's owners, United Racecourses, said yesterday. "Had there been only 10,000 people there you could have said we had made a horlicks of it, but it has not been an unqualified disaster. We could not have picked a more competitive weekend for the Derby. Today, for example, England are playing against Australia, the West Indies and Brazil in various international sports.

"I refute the idea that the Derby is not still a big event. We have an accountable figure of over 50,000 now and, in three years' time, I would expect that figure to start with a seven."

This was good robust stuff from the organisers, but it was buttressed by little support from others involved on the day. On-course Tote turnover was down 11 per cent, the leading bookmaker Stephen Little reported slow business and, off course, Ladbrokes said trade was down 20 per cent on the Derby.

The infield market, where one chap sells a bin-liner full of bric-a-brac for pounds 20 was so quiet that he decamped for a tea, and even Gypsy Rose Lee had a low-key day. But then she had probably foreseen that.

To the naked eye, there appeared to be more space everywhere, which was no bad thing for those that bothered to turn up. But at the Derby, when the claustrophobia goes it tends to take the atmosphere with it. "I've been coming here for seven years and it's the worst I've ever seen it," one regular said. "There were no queues: into the course, up to the bookies or in the bars. Nobody was there. I was quite embarrassed because I'd brought some friends and told them what a rip-roaring day out it was."

The Derby was switched to a Saturday this year because organisers know it is the day when the largest pool of potential spectators is available. But it is also the day of greatest competition and had the Classic been run last Wednesday there would have been no dogfight with Test cricket or the Rugby World Cup, both of which were televised.

In addition, it transpires that people rather liked the abnormality of a Wednesday sporting fixture. It used to be a focal point for a day off work (legitimate or otherwise) and a day to ring in the calendar. Saturdays, the general theme seemed to be from the Derby throng, was now a family day. Epsom will have to learn how to adjust to a new audience; Britain's trainers will have to compete with a revolutionary method of preparing racehorses.

THE DERBY

1. LAMMTARRA chestnut colt Nijinsky - Snow Bride W Swinburn 14-1

2. Tamure L Dettori 9-1

3. Presenting 12-1

Also ran. 11-8 fav Pennekamp (11th), 5-1 Spectrum (13th), 8-1 Munwar (9th), 16-1 Riyadian (7th), 20-1 Vettori (6th), 25-1 Humbel (8th), 50- 1 Fahal (4th), Salmon Ladder (10th), 66-1 Court Of Honour (5th), 150-1 Korambi (12th), 200-1 Maralinga (15th), 500-1 Daffaq (14th).

Distances: 1, 3/4, 11/4, sht-hd, 3.

Trained: Saeed bin Suroor for Saeed bin Maktoum al Maktoum.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore