Racing: Central perks up Godolphin squad

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The Independent Online
By John Cobb

THE Godolphin team failed to win the French Derby yesterday but mopped up just about every other decent prize around Europe with their support squad to give huge encouragement for their first team, Cape Verdi, City Honours and Bahr, at Epsom this week.

Mudeer was the one to let the side down, trailing in 11th of the 13 runners behind the locally-trained Dream Well in the Prix du Jockey Club, but Frankie Dettori sported the royal blue silks to victory in the Group One Prix Jean Prat on Almutawakel, while in Rome, Daragh O'Donohoe guided Central Park to success in the pounds 140,000 Derby Italiano.

Whether all this has any bearing on the outcome of Friday's Oaks or Saturday's Derby is disputable - beyond the fact that the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained runners are clearly in exuberant well-being. However, one clear conclusion of the outcome of the Prix du Jockey Club is that if Aidan O'Brien's Saratoga Springs, a modest fourth yesterday - is to be persuaded to perform again at Epsom on Saturday it should be as a punishment.

"He's tried hard enough today," Michael Kinane said after returning on this notoriously indolent colt. "But the ground has cut up a bit down the back straight and he was just running a little lazily. When the second horse went past him he just became a little disheartened before he ran on again."

The result will have done little for the O'Brien camp's confidence in King Of Kings and Second Empire for Epsom and also knocked a bit of a hole in the credibility of the form of the Dante Stakes in which Saratoga Springs beat Epsom candidates City Honours and Border Arrow. William Hill responded by extending the odds against King Of Kings from 11-2 to 6- 1 and those against Border Arrow from 14-1 to 16-1.

Kinane has still not made a decision over which horse he will ride at Epsom but appears to be leaning towards Second Empire. "I'm not trying to be coy, I can honestly say I have not made up mind yet," he said. "I'll be riding King Of Kings and Second Empire in work on Tuesday and I'll probably make my decision after that."

O'Brien insisted that Saratoga Springs, about five lengths behind the winner, is still not definitely out of the Epsom picture. "He laboured in the ground and I'll have to get him home and talk about it. But he's not ruled out of Epsom yet."

However, O'Brien gave a hint that Kinane will be aboard Second Empire on Saturday. "Michael's always loved the horse though we'll wait and see how the horses go in the week."

Dream Well came from off the pace to provide his trainer, Pascal Bary, and jockey, Cash Asmussen, with their third win in the Classic, beating his stablemate Croco Rouge by a neck. Barry Hills's Prolix performed with credit, leading into the straight and finishing fifth. Dream Well and Croco Rouge are still in the Derby but are likely to be taken out today.


1. DREAM WELL bay colt Sadler's Wells - Soul Dream (C Asmussen); 2. Croco Rouge (S Guillot); 3. Sestino (O Doleuze). Also: Saratoga Springs (4th), Prolix (5th), Mountjoy (6th), Vezing (7th), Sayarshan (8th), Thief Of Hearts (9th), Makaruka (10th), Mudeer (11th), Daymarti (12th), Roli Albi. 13 ran. Trained: P Bary. Nk, 3. Pari-Mutuel (including 1F stake): Win 8.80; places 2.50, 1.90. 3.60. DF 23.70.