In successive defeats - in the Derby, Eclipse and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes - Tenby has gone through a reputation freefall since he went into Epsom as an odds-on favourite. But at least his manoeuvres, allied with the rise of a third colt owned by Khalid Abdullah, Commander In Chief, have diverted attention from the resting Armiger. 'We've been lucky that we've had two other horses that have been able to take the pressure off Armiger in Tenby and the Commander,' Grant Pritchard-Gordon, the racing manager to Abdullah, said yesterday.
Armiger has not run since his neck defeat by Hernando in the Prix Lupin in May, a reverse which looks less damaging in the light of the winner's subsequent Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) victory and the fact that the chestnut returned home with inflamed legs.
'There have been no doubts about Armiger's shins recently,' Pritchard-Gordon said. 'The only doubts have been whether he is fit enough to run in the Voltigeur. We've always been slightly behind schedule but we're hoping now that we might just have caught up.'
The persuasive evidence for this belief came yesterday morning when Armiger finished in front of Tenby and a third horse in the group, Allegan. 'He worked well and Henry and Willie Ryan (the colt's work-rider) were very pleased with him,' Pritchard-Gordon said.
This week's shifting in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe market suggests that Commander In Chief (12-1 from 8-1 with one firm) is a waning figure, but there is contrary news from his camp. 'I can assure you that the Commander is in great form,' Pritchard-Gordon said. 'He will have an Arc preparation as well and as we've got him, Wemyss Bight and Armiger we'd be hopeful that one of them, if not two, would get there with a good chance.
'Henry may decide he can go straight to the race without a preparatory, or he may go for either the Cumberland Lodge, the September Stakes, the Select Stakes or the Prix Niel.'
The cast of fillies may not be as impressive at York. Lemon Souffle, Richard Hannon's Cherry Hinton winner, has pulled a muscle in her quarters and will miss the Lowther Stakes. This contest may be beefed up, however, by the appearance of another Hannon filly, Risky.
Last year's leading figure in the Ebor itself, Quick Ransom, came through a gallop yesterday and will attempt a reprise next Wednesday. A 12-1 chance with William Hill, the gelding is back in working order after being badly struck into during the Northumberland Plate in June. 'While he has been off we have been going hell for leather to get him back for York and I am much more confident after today's work,' Mark Johnston, the horse's trainer, said.
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