Pivotal role surprises Prescott

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The Independent Online
For the jingoists who spluttered when Arab-owned horses made a clean sweep of Thursday's card at the Royal meeting, yesterday's results had a more reassuring feel as two animals bred and owned by the Cheveley Park Stud emerged victorious.

Pivotal and Dazzle carried the banner for the stud which occupies 400 prime acres of Britain's green and pleasant racing land at Newmarket. The former was the biggest win of Sir Mark Prescott's career, but would not have been if the trainer had got his way.

Prescott is by nature a pessimist. If he were advising Linford Christie, he would be telling the sprinter to ignore Atlanta and go for a father's day race. The Newmarket man wanted to run Pivotal in the less exalted Cork & Orrery Stakes earlier this week but was overruled.

Dazzle's win in the Windsor Castle Stakes was so emphatic that her rider, Kieran Fallon, need not have spent so long in the sauna trying to get down to 8st 3lb. "This is my rock bottom weight and I had to sweat very hard," he said. The Irishman still rode at 2lb overweight.

Oscar Schindler engineered another escape when he extricated himself from the pack just in time to catch Annus Mirabilis in the Hardwicke Stakes. The Irish-trained winner has the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as a long-term target and may return here for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, when there may be an unusual spectator. Oliver Lehane, the winning owner, has tracked down the widow of the original Oscar Schindler to a town 100km from Buenos Aires and offered to fly her over for the race.

An early examination of the Derby form became almost a post-mortem when Shantou, the Epsom third, occupied a similar place behind the 66-1 chance Amfortas in the King Edward VII Stakes. The winning trainer, saddling yet another long-priced Group winner, was the Quixotic Clive Brittain.

The Derby running will again be on the slide under the microscope in France tomorrow when Paul Kelleway's Glory Of Dancer attempts to export the Grand Prix de Paris. Kelleway's Blue Riband fourth is joined by compatriot Farasan, from Henry Cecil's yard, against the principal home forces of Grape Tree Road, Le Triton, Android and Fort Nottingham.

Back home, the supreme stayers (human) will drag themselves to Ascot (not Royal) for a fifth day today for what is sniffily known as the Heath card. Winners here are just as valuable as at the rest of the meeting, however.

The safest bet here is Astor Place (3.00), who should enjoy this drop in grade. Last time Peter Chapple-Hyam's colt was left panting at half- way in the French Derby, but passed traffic in the straight like a fire engine. Salmon Ladder (3.35) is also in shallower waters than were once entertained for him and, despite top weight, Paul Cole's one-time Derby consideration looks attractive in the Ladbroke Handicap.

ROSES IN THE SNOW (nap 2.00) may never have seen the white stuff as she spent the winter in the poor man's Dubai, Pisa, and she has clearly benefited from the break as she won with nonchalance last time.

There are also grounds to support Midnight Escape (next best 2.30), who won extravagantly at Windsor last time and returns once again to the monarch's territory.