Racing: Bulaxie fires Carson's confidence: An excitable filly subdues her rivals and enhances prospects of a Classic haul for a veteran rider

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The Independent Online
THERE may not be many weeks left in Willie Carson's career, but one of them could be the most rewarding of his 30 years in the saddle. In the first week of June, the Scot will ride both the favourite for the Derby, Erhaab, and the leading Oaks fancy Bulaxie, who is as low as 2-1 for Epsom following her victory in the Lupe Stakes yesterday.

According to the bookmakers, Carson is on the threshold of becoming the first man since Steve Cauthen in 1985 to land both Epsom Classics in the same season.

In pure form terms, Bulaxie's four-length success from Highland Legend did not reach any pinnacles, but there was much to admire about her performance. Slightly skittish in the preliminaries, John Dunlop's filly was also effervescent in the early stages of the race before she reached cruising speed. Two furlongs out, however, she swept to the leaders with Carson, who possesses one of the more animated techniques of his trade, sitting unusually still in the saddle. Only a modicum of encouragement was needed to send her bolting clear.

Dunlop acknowledged his filly's excitability, but appeared satisfied that the trait could be contained. 'She looked to me to settle well and Willie said she was never a problem from that point of view,' the Arundel man said. 'He said she lengthened rather than quickening dramatically.

'One must bear in mind it wasn't a great contest, but she couldn't have done much better than that.'

Carson also reported that Bulaxie was more than equipped for the extra two furlongs of the Oaks. 'She is definitely going to stay a mile and a half,' he said. 'In fact, as I was getting off I asked if she was in the St Leger, so staying is not a matter of doubt.'

The doubts that exist in the jockey's mind concern the weather and Epsom's cambers rather than any particular rival. 'She's a little bit apprehensive about whatever she does and the parade is going to be a slight problem because she hasn't been in one before,' he said.

'I just hope it isn't a blistering hot day because she usually gets a bit warm, but if that's the only danger, I haven't got much to worry about.'

In addition, Carson believes the single most exciting performance from a prospective Derby colt was the Dante Stakes victory of Erhaab, who has his first serious piece of work since York tomorrow.

After Tuesday's forfeit stage 34 horses remain in contention for the Blue Riband, including just three possibles from overseas, Mohaajir (Ireland), State Performer (Dubai) and Sunshack (France). Among the others are beasts such as Chickawicka (trained by Rod Millman) and Plato's Republic (John Jenkins), who will need to start running now if they are to make the frame.

Of the 10 horses who were entered at the 2 March supplementary stage for pounds 10,000 only two - Mister Baileys and The Flying Phantom - remain, and there was notice yesterday that Epsom may amend the criticised entry conditions. 'The system is under review,' Tim Neligan, the managing director of United Racecourses, said. 'If the early-entry system is preventing the best horses running then it is clearly capable of improvement.'

Neligan added that the fee to supplement next spring would be less than this year, but that there were no plans to adopt the five-day supplementary stage employed before the Irish Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

THE OAKS (Epsom, 4 June): Coral: 2-1 Bulaxie, 9-2 Bonash & Wind In Her Hair, 8-1 Balanchine, 12-1 Hawajiss; Ladbrokes: 3-1 Bulaxie, 4-1 Bonash, 6-1 Balanchine & Wind In Her Hair; William Hill: 11-4 Bulaxie, 4-1 Bonash & Wind In Her Hair, 7-1 Balanchine, 12-1 Hawajiss, 16-1 Spot Prize.