Racing: Caution grounds High-Rise plans

Click to follow
THE FLY-BILLS advertising a meeting of the Derby winners will need to be pulped in Dublin this morning, thanks to the unexpected decision yesterday by the connections of High-Rise to avoid a meeting with Dream Well in the Irish Derby at the Curragh on Sunday. Sheikh Obaid al Maktoum, High-Rise's owner, will not now need to find the IRpounds 75,000 required to add his colt to the race, but it is followers of racing on both sides of the Irish Sea who will be the poorer for his absence.

Anthony Stroud, Sheikh Obaid's racing manager, said that it had been decided to give High-Rise more time to recover from the experience of winning the Derby at Epsom a little over two weeks ago. His next race will instead be the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on 25 July, and it will be another year at least before the Curragh can stage a meeting between the English and French Derby winners for the first time since Commander In Chief beat Hernando in 1993.

"The horse is very well and in good form," Luca Cumani, his trainer, said yesterday, "but the owner, Anthony and I have decided that if we give him a bit more time in between races we can go straight for the King George in good shape.

"There is also the fact that it involved a pounds 75,000 payment and the King George is free. We are looking at the King George and we will see after that but if we don't overdo it now then hopefully we will still have a horse in the autumn as well."

The Irish Derby still promises to be a serious horse race, however, and in the regrettable absence of its winner, the Epsom form could not have a stronger representative than City Honours, who was overhauled by High- Rise when just a few strides away from giving Godolphin their most important victory to date. This will be the first serious examination of the Derby's merits, and it is a test which its French equivalent barely scraped through last weekend when Croco Rouge and Prolix, who finished third and fifth respectively behind Dream Well last month, could reach only the identical positions in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp.

The official handicappers too have offered support to the Epsom Classic by rating Dream Well 2lb inferior to High-Rise, an assessment which did not impress Pascal Bary, Dream Well's trainer. Bary will not appreciate the opening betting on Sunday's race either, in which his colt is the 100-30 second-favourite despite having reportedly improved in both his work and physical wellbeing since his victory at Chantilly. City Honours, who has himself been the subject of excited dispatches from the Newmarket gallops, is a 13-8 chance, with the eight remaining entries available at 7-1 and above.

It is far from unusual, though, for form recorded on Epsom's demanding switchback to unravel when tested on the galloping expanse of the Curragh. Sadian, Sunshine Street and Saratoga Springs, who finished seventh, fourth and 10th respectively behind High-Rise, are expected to mount a serious challenge this weekend, and all are offered at single-figure odds. Risk Material, an unexposed stable-mate of Saratoga Springs at Aidan O'Brien's yard, is cautiously priced at 12-1 to give his trainer a second consecutive win in the race following his victory with Desert King. The remaining entries appear to stand no more than an outside chance.

The participation of Takarian, a 33-1 chance, is of considerable interest to John Murtagh, however. The jockey rode Sunshine Street at Epsom, when the colt took no notice of his odds of 150-1 and led until two furlongs out, before staying on into fourth. If Takarian lines up on Sunday, however - the German Derby is an alternative - Murtagh will be forced to take the ride and abandon Sunshine Street.

Irish Derby

Horse C H L T

City Honours (Saeed bin Suroor, GB) 11-8 6-4 11-8 13-8

Dream Well (P Bary, Fr) 3-1 5-2 5-2 100-30

Sadian (H Cecil, GB) 6-1 7-1 7-1 5-1

Saratoga Springs (A P O'Brien) 7-1 6-1 7-1 6-1

Sunshine Street (N Meade) 7-1 7-1 7-1 6-1

Risk Material (A P O'Brien) 10-1 8-1 12-1 10-1

Campo Catino (C O'Brien) 25-1 25-1 20-1 25-1

Takarian (J Oxx) 33-1 25-1 25-1 25-1

Desert Fox (A P O'Brien) 33-1 40-1 50-1 33-1

Make No Mistake (D Weld) 25-1 50-1 33-1 33-1

Sunday at the Curragh. Each-way a fifth the odds, places 1, 2, 3. C Coral, H Wm Hill, L Ladbrokes, T Tote