Racing: Camelot wins out in Lupe lottery

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The Independent Online
It was an apposite commentary on the status of the Lupe Stakes as an Oaks trial that yesterday's Listed contest went to a filly that was not only not among the Epsom entries but running in the race merely to get a handicap mark. Oh, and Maid Of Camelot was also her stable's second string.

The greatest glory that Roger Charlton's filly had achieved before yesterday was victory in the racing cauldron that is Bath, the sort of form which allowed her to be sent off at 10-1. If there was little interest in Maid Of Camelot's movement before competition there was unusual attention directed towards another contestant.

Meshhed has earned her place in posterity by kicking Willie Carson into retirement, and the ghouls collected yesterday to see if Richard Hills could get on her back before he ended up on his.

It was decided that Meshhed should be mounted inside her box and when her trainer, Ben Hanbury, held the door open for Hills, the jockey's countenance suggested he was being helped over the threshold into Hades. Hanbury was rather amused by his confederate's reticence and half expected a white feather to come under the stable door. "If Richard ever saw a fence in front of him I think he'd die," the trainer said.

Hanbury, Savile Row's greatest friend, expects to have his first runner in the Derby next month with Fahris, who has recovered from having a hole drilled in his snout to alleviate a sinus problem. The colt will receive plenty of vocal support from the press room at Epsom, which is not entirely unconnected to Hanbury's promise to send up a crate of champagne to the scribblers if he is successful. Certainly, he has more chances of winning Group races with Fahris that Meshhed.

Meshhed was swiftly out of the stalls yesterday, but immediately restrained as a pace that would have been embarrassingly slow for pallbearers developed. Maid Of Camelot was at the forefront of the crawl, leading into the straight before surrendering her lead, which is normally the precursor for a gradual fade. Priena swept by and Meshhed looked dangerous, but then she is. However, it was Maid Of Camelot who exhibited the superior stamina to regain the lead from Priena, who just held off the winner's stablemate Keyboogie for second.

"Maid Of Camelot is very idle at home and doesn't do a lot," Roger Charlton, the winning trainer, reported. "Keyboogie would be 10 lengths in front of her. She is not in the Oaks but something like the Ribblesdale [Stakes] should be a natural race for her."

This was a great victory for the unsung as the winner's partner was Tim Sprake, the 29-year-old jockey who remains about as fashionable as bootlace ties among the owning fraternity. This is not to say that Sprake cannot ride - a point which is not lost on Charlton. "Tim rides sensibly and well and he certainly doesn't let the side down in big races," the trainer said.

More pertinent Classic information yesterday concerned the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Derby. Peter Chapple-Hyam will now be doubly represented at the Curragh on Sunday (as will Robert Sangster) following the decision to add Romanov's name to the field. Ladbrokes make him an 8-1 chance and have his more celebrated stablemate Revoque as their 4-5 favourite.

Kieren Fallon, who misses today after damaging a ligament in his arm here, was yesterday confirmed as the Derby partner of Symonds Inn, whose task is to become the first Derby winner from the North since 1945 and Dante on 7 June.

Jimmy FitzGerald's colt worked briskly on Tuesday in typical snob-like manner, with his nose in the air. "That's just his confirmation," FitzGerald said. "People think that just because he carries his head high he might not be 100 per cent genuine, but they should look at the horse's confirmation before they draw their conclusions.

"Symonds Inn walks around with his head in the air almost as if he is proud of himself. He even stands in his box with his head up." Ladbrokes' odds are 25-1 that Symonds Inn will be looking down on his Derby rivals two weeks on Saturday.

THE OAKS (Epsom, 6 June): Coral: evens Reams Of Verse, 8-1 Yashmak, 10- 1 Siyadah, 14-1 Crown Of Light & Ebadiyla; Ladbrokes: evens Reams Of Verse, 5-1 Yashmak, 10-1 Siyadah, 12-1 Ebadiyla, 14-1 Crown Of Light, 16-1 Strawberry Roan; William Hill: 4-5 Reams Of Verse, 10-1 Siyadah, 14-1 Crown Of Light, 16-1 Strawberry Roan, 20-1 Ebadiyla & Ukraine Venture.