Twenty-five years ago, Budgett sent out Blakeney from the yard on the Berkshire Downs to win the Blue Riband, and followed up four years later with Morston. Cole prepared Generous, his 1991 Derby winner, on the same Woolley Down gallops which he considers to be the best in the world, and sends Waiting and Star Selection into bat this year.
Star Selection, the property of Martyn Arbib, Snurge's owner, is dispatched to Epsom instead of Arbib's Strategic Choice, who will instead contest Sunday's Prix du Jockey- Club. Star Selection's late confirmation in a big field has left Cole scrabbling around to find someone to lever into the saddle. 'Unfortunately, there are just not enough top jockeys to go round and we're still negotiating,' he said yesterday.
Whatcombe's No 1 representative is Waiting, who runs in the Generous colours of Fahd Salman. 'Waiting has been working well and one line of form certainly suggests he is in there with a shout,' Cole said.
Gallops form here is almost as instructive, as Waiting is considered vastly superior at home to Cole's Time Star, who won the Derby Italiano on Sunday. Bookmakers are struggling to assess the colt's chances; William Hill make him a 14-1 chance, while Coral are as long as 25-1.
A dry day at Epsom, where the going is expected to harden from the current good to soft, led to support for the Dante Stakes winner, Erhaab. His stablemate at John Dunlop's Arundel Stables, Bulaxie, will face a maximum of 10 opponents when she tackles the Oaks on Saturday.
The notable defectors yesterday were Fairy Heights, who has failed to sparkle on the gallops, and France's Three Angels. Michael Stoute, twice a winner of the race with Fair Salinia (1978) and Unite (1987), has three options this time with Dance To The Top, Hawajiss and Munnaya.
Supporters of Dunlop's Castle Stables hardly had their confidence withered at Sandown yesterday, when the Sussex trainer provided Pat Eddery with three legs of a 1,098-1 four-timer. But the highest place on the podium at Esher was occupied by Lochsong, who took her career earnings close to pounds 450,000 with victory in the Temple Stakes.
Ian Balding's mare again had her rivals breathless before the stalls stopped reverberating and had to be reminded that she was competing in a race in the closing stages. 'She wasn't doing a tap through the last two furlongs, looking at the crowd, so I had to give her a couple of back-handers,' Lanfranco Dettori, the winning jockey, said.
Roddy Armytage, best known for preparing a horse with different talents, the dour stayer and dual Scottish National winner Barona, ended his training career with a winner when Merry Master succeeded at Wetherby. The duel to determine the jump jockeys' championship intensified again as Adrian Maguire rode two winners to Richard Dunwoody's one to bring him within five of the reigning champion.
THE OAKS (Epsom, Saturday): Coral: 7-4 Bulaxie, 7-2 Bonash, 9-2 Wind In Her Hair, 6-1 Balanchine, 12-1 Dance To The Top, 14-1 Hawajiss & Spot Prize, 25-1 Munnaya, 50-1 Fragrant Belle, 66-1 Brentwood, 100-1 Majestic Role.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content