Mystic Knight rules

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The Independent Online
A waiting brief is the order of the day after Mystic Knight made all to beat Heron Island and Zaforum in the Tripleprint Derby Trial here yesterday. The length-and-a-quarter winner is entered at Epsom, but his trainer Roger Charlton's first thoughts were that the Italian Derby two weeks today would be his first priority.

He said: "If we're realistic I think he'd have a better chance in Rome than at Epsom. But he's improving, and we'll be able to judge better after the trials at York and Goodwood."

Mystic Knight, ridden by Frankie Dettori, came down the Lingfield hill and round the bend as if on rails, but Heron Island coped less well with the Epsom-like undulations. He stumbled on the descent and ran rather wide and unbalanced into the straight, and could make no real impression on the winner, who stayed on strongly.

Any decision about Heron Island's participation in the Derby will be delayed until after his Peter Chapple-Hyam trained stable-mates Astor Place and Nash House run at York this week. His owner, Robert Sangster, said: "Things did not go right for him on the hill, and it's hard to peg one back that's got a lead on this fast ground."

The maiden Zaforum, from Les Montague Hall's small Epsom stable, is one definite starter in his local Classic, but the trial had little effect on the big-race betting, for which Nash House and the 2,000 Guineas principals Mark Of Esteem and Even Top share favouritism.

Lady Carla confirmed her high home reputation with an emphatic win, again from the front, in the Champagne Ruinart Oaks Trial. The Caerleon filly, racing for only the second time in her life, strode home three and a half lengths clear of Flame Valley in a slightly faster time than the colts, and her trainer, Henry Cecil, said: "She only ever does as much as she has to, but that was a good performance and she's a worthy Oaks candidate."

The Godolphin team got off the mark for the weekend with former John Oxx inmate Isla Del Rey, all-the-way winner of the listed Chartwell Fillies' Stakes.

A year ago today the Godolphin horses notched up an international Group 1 treble, and will try for a repeat performance with Heart Lake in Japan, Cezanne in Italy and Don Micheletto in France. The last-named, bidding to follow in the hoofprints of Vettori, is one of six British-trained challengers in a field of 10 for the French 2,000 Guineas, where the unbeaten Ashkalani will start a hot favourite.

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