Racing: Castoret has calm to collect

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The Independent Online
USER FRIENDLY's greatest achievement may turn out to be the win that looked least impressive.

When the Oaks winner scrambled home by a neck in the Irish equivalent at The Curragh last month, many saw the result as an overestimation by her trainer, Clive Brittain, who has bracketed the filly with his brilliant Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Pebbles.

Brittain believes User Friendly won her second Classic at a time when she should still have been on the exercise grounds. 'The trouble started when she came back from Epsom with a swollen joint,' he says. 'We gave her a 10-day easy when she was just swimming and then some work on the chippings.

'But you need to get some work into them on grass and when she ran in Ireland it was really the final exercise gallop she needed. We really got away with it in that race.'

In the run-up to today's Yorkshire Oaks, User Friendly (2.35) has enjoyed a clearer passage and completed her preparations last week with a sweet piece of work.

Brittain anticipates victory and will then consider either the St Leger - 'the colts don't look very good' - or the Prix Vermeille before a challenge for the Arc. 'I have every confidence she will run a big race and prove to be the filly I was so strong about,' he said.

The second pounds 100,000 race on the card, the Ebor, should fall to Castoret, a horse who reports for duty each season in a state of keenness that damages his chances. 'At the beginning of the year he is such a fresh horse that he never quite gets home in his races,' John Hills, the gelding's trainer, said. 'He takes a while to calm down but as the season goes on he switches off and starts to come home.'

CASTORET (nap 3.10) proved at Kempton last September that the Ebor's 14-furlong journey is within his range and should benefit from today's guaranteed searching pace. 'The key to him is a strong-run race,' Hills says. 'The times he has struggled have been when they have fiddled along and done him for foot at the end.'

There will be no dawdling either in the Gimcrack Stakes, which Richard Hannon is hoping to collect for the fourth time in five years. His main hope is Son Pardo, who had an impossible draw at Leopardstown last time but will struggle to concede 2lb to Royal Ascot winner Petardia (3.45).

The Canadian should be completed with Bold Seven (2.05) and Juniper Berry (next best 4.15), whom Peter Chapple-Hyam considered his best hope of the week at start of play.