Derby clues aplenty emerged at the Roodeye yesterday, not from the oval that is Britain's oldest racecourse but rather the similar shape that is Peter Chapple-Hyam's mouth.
After a Pete and dud show in the first when the trainer's odds-on Carmine Lake was a miserable disappointment, the Manton handler captured both events that were billed as Blue Riband trials before revealing that his serious Epsom aspirants were back home with the babysitters.
Legal Right won a Grosvenor Maiden Stakes that had several Derby entrants among the assembly, but as the winner is not considered to be of Epsom calibre it may be safe to ignore those that trod in his hoofprints.
High Baroque took the main event, the Chester Vase, despite negotiating the tight turns with the smoothness of a combine harvester. His chances of winning the Derby are limited however, as he is not entered for the race. All five that finished behind him are.
Among the vanquished was Air Quest, a full-brother to the 1990 Derby winner, Quest For Fame. The favourite resembled his sibling in the parade ring, albeit following a course of slimming powders, but after finishing last but one he appeared no more than a shadow.
High Baroque is the joint property of Robert Sangster and Michael Tabor, who are not near the top of many people's list of great losers. Sangster's deeds in racing spread back two decades, while Tabor, who has made something of a comeback since being a warned-off bookmaker in the 1970s, is the new face of successful ownership of the 90s. From a base in Monte Carlo he monitors worldwide interests that brought him a Kentucky Derby 12 months ago with Thunder Gulch and several tidy victories within these shores.
These connections, it appears, do not confer special privileges on High Baroque. On his return, Chapple-Hyam loudly slapped the colt down the neck and greeted him with the tender words: "You're lazier than me you bastard." The King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot beckons.
Chapple-Hyam admires High Baroque's tenacity, but on a point of naked quality he has others in his mind. Heron Island contests the Lingfield Derby Trial on Saturday in a programme that is likely to include the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby), while Astor Place is also further up the pecking order and is expected to prove his mettle against Dushyantor in the Glasgow Stakes at York next week. "I've believed in Astor Place from the moment he came into the yard," the trainer said. "I've always loved the horse."
Astor Place, it was reported, worked better yesterday morning than Nash House, although this isolated gallop has done nothing to dilute Chapple- Hyam's faith in the Newbury maiden winner. "Nash House is the boy," he said. "He is the one at home that's got the real class and the turn of foot. Legal Right, Astor Place, Heron Island and High Baroque are more gallopers who haven't got that electrifying turn of foot. Nash House can go whoosh but the other horses just do it.
"He's bred on the same lines as Spectrum so we're not sure if he'll get the trip, but the way he works at home convinces me that he will."
Nash House will also be on the Knavesmire, where his opponents in the Dante Stakes a week today will include Henry Cecil's Storm Trooper. York is becoming increasingly unmissable. Punters should start composing their sick notes.
THE DERBY (Epsom, 8 June): Coral: 6-1 Even Top, 7-1 Mark Of Esteem & Nash House, 8-1 Alhaarth, 10-1 Dushyantor; Ladbrokes: 4-1 Mark Of Esteem, 5-1 Even Top, 7-1 Alhaarth & Nash House, 8-1 Dushyantor; William Hill: 5-1 Even Top, Mark Of Esteem & Nash House, 8-1 Alhaarth & Dushyantor, 16-1 Micks Love.Reuse content