Merit makes light work of Cup

"Henry Cecil was muttering before the race," Anthony Penfold, Fahd Salman's racing manager, said after the Chester Cup yesterday. "He was wondering why his horse had to carry 9st when ours had got in on 7st 10lb and he's won his last three races." After four minutes of very one-sided action around the Roodeye, Cecil was certainly not alone.

If a man sporting dark glasses and an upturned collar was seen leaving by a side-exit as Merit was led back after his six-length victory, it was probably the handicapper, who will not look back on the 1996 Chester Cup as one of his finer pieces of work. While he was aware that Merit had started to improve rapidly at the end of last season, however, he could not have known that during the winter the process had not just continued, but also accelerated. When he takes his revenge in the ratings, it may be brutal.

Jimmy Quinn, the fortunate jockey who pulled on Salman's dark green silks yesterday, has set himself a target of 1,000 rides this season, and if he rode 10,000 it is doubtful if he would find an easier winner. Merit was settled just off the pace throughout, was clearly going best with a circuit left, and strode clear two furlongs out.

"He travelled really sweetly and I haven't had an easier ride round here apart from Welshman," he said, recalling his victory in the same race four years ago. "He's a lovely horse, and he'd be a nice one to keep the ride on."

The last comment was offered with a smile, but also a hint of resignation. It is not that Quinn is in danger of falling out with Paul Cole, Merit's trainer, but his is the perennial problem of the lightweight. Merit will be asked to shoulder a more realistic burden in his next race - possibly the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting - and rather than fill the saddle with a stone and a half of lead, his connections may prefer to engage a heavier jockey.

Daraydan, top weight with two stone more to carry than the winner, ran on well into second, with Corradini, Cecil's runner, a length away in third, a position which was commendable given that every one of the other 17 runners was ahead of him with a circuit to run. Pat Eddery, his jockey, came from an impossible position to win the second race on Vasari, but it was greedy to expect such remarkable good luck to continue.

There were no such problems for Mick Kinane, who put in an exemplary performance on Tout A Coup to win the Cheshire Oaks. The winner is trained in Ireland by Gerry Cusack, a former employee of Michael Stoute, and with a Listed-race victory to show for his first runner in Britain, his future appears bright.

The success was rather less auspicious for the Oaks, however, as for the second day running a Classic trial was won by a runner without an entry for Epsom. In Tout A Coup's case, all is not lost with the supplementary stage for the Oaks still to come, a luxury denied to the connections of Tuesday's Chester Vase winner, High Baroque, who does not have a Derby entry.

Cusack, though, insisted yesterday that his filly will not be added to the list. Edmund Loder, her owner, may attempt to persuade him otherwise, but the Irish Oaks, at the Curragh on 14 July is the trainer's preferred option and only a pitifully foolish punter will take the 20-1 offered by William Hill for the original version on 7 June.

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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there