Racing: Chatoyant on cue for Watts: A trainer whose best moments came via Teleprompter has a prime-time slot in Ascot's showpiece

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The Independent Online
WHEN Bill Watts wants to remember his great moments he opens his scrapbook and the front door.

Yellowness will by now be eating into the newspaper cuttings of his first good horse, the 1972 1,000 Guineas winner, Waterloo, but age has not withered the Yorkshire trainer's other champion, Teleprompter, who announces his wellbeing each morning.

'He spends his winters at Lord Derby's stud (at Newmarket) and his summers up here,' Watts said yesterday of the 14-year-old. 'He goes out to exercise, cantering and enjoying himself. He thinks he is still in training.'

Teleprompter brought out the bunting at Hurgill Lodge in the middle of the last decade, winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and the Arlington Million, and there are hopes that the decoration will be out again in North Yorkshire this weekend following the performance of the gelding's half- brother, Chatoyant, in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Like Teleprompter before him, Chatoyant has clambered out of the bog of handicappers to make himself a force in conditions races. 'Teleprompter improved a lot as he got older and all the family are the same,' Watts said. 'This horse has got a lot stronger over the winter.'

It is partly this thickening that leads Watts to believe that Chatoyant may now be ready for his first voyage over 12 furlongs. Some believe the distance will be the colt's undoing; his trainer considers it might even be the making of him.

'When we upped him in distance last year to a mile and a quarter we got a fair amount of improvement, and we hope another step up will see the same,' he said. 'I don't see why he shouldn't get the trip. In fact, it might be to his advantage.'

Bill Watts would like to think this is true as he is due another runner of excellence to upgrade the fortunes of his relatively small stable. 'He's the best I've had for a long time, the best since Teleprompter, and he only needs to improve a few pounds to be right up there with the best around,' he said. 'I need to have a good horse again. We all need to have a good horse.'

If the prize does return to Richmond, much will be made of the yard's geography and the fact that the North has been successful. Watts, like many of his colleagues north of the Trent, feels no inferiority complex when comparing his talents with the men at Newmarket, but bemoans the fact that the quality thoroughbreds are not shared around.

'We (in the North) don't often have horses who are capable of competing in this type of race,' he said. 'But we can do it if we've got the right horse. If the animal is good, it doesn't matter even if you come from Alaska.'

Market movements for Saturday's race yesterday included the promotion of a new favourite with one firm. Andre Fabre's Apple Tree now heads Coral's list at 4-1 following the retreat of Erhaab. The Derby winner is out to 9-2 from 7-2.

Other horses cut by Coral were White Muzzle and Ezzoud, who is to be the partner for Walter Swinburn. The jockey who last won the race 13 years ago on Shergar prefers Michael Stoute's colt to Petit Loup, another runner who is owned by Maktoum Al Maktoum. The reject, who is trained by Criquette Head, will now be ridden by the jockey she knows best, her brother Freddie.

KING GEORGE VI & QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES (Ascot, Saturday): Coral: 4-1 Apple Tree, 9-2 Erhaab, 5-1 White Muzzle, 13-2 Bob's Return, 8-1 Foyer, 10-1 Chatoyant, 11-1 Ezzoud.

(Photograph omitted)