Racing: Dante inferno may be too hot for Adair

RICHARD EDMONDSON Nap: Carambo (Redcar 3.30) NB: Corvino (Windsor 8.15)
Click to follow
AS WE speed towards the main course of the Derby it is taking some time for the previous courses to settle down. None of the first three in the 2,000 Guineas was a Derby consideration, the winner of Chester's main trial was palpably the second best horse in the race and on Saturday came another unsatisfactory result.

The Lingfield Derby trial was the contest in which Daliapour was supposed to signpost his Epsom credentials but instead there was victory for Lucido who was not even an entry for the Derby. If his connections believe their hand is strong enough and want to see what their colt can do they will have to throw a pounds 75,000 supplementary fee into the pot.

We were even denied the glimmer of enlightenment which France could have provided yesterday. State Shinto, Andre Fabre's odds-on favourite, was beaten by Falcon Flight in the Group Two Prix Hocquart at Chantilly and a foreign foray for him now looks rather fanciful.

If anything meaty is to emerge it seems it will have to be at this week's Dante meeting at York. John Smith, the clerk of the course, reported yesterday that the ground for the meeting is good with slightly softer patches. A fine day is forecast for tomorrow with showers predicted on the other days of the meeting.

It seems then that what- ever race Adair takes in he might be getting wet. It had been assumed that Godolphin's main hope for the Derby would be making his seasonal debut and indeed first run for them in Wednesday's Dante Stakes. It could be, though, that he takes in the less strenuous option of the following day's Glasgow Stakes. "Do we go for the super-tough race or do we take the easier option considering that the Derby is the premier goal?" Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, said yesterday. "He's doing well but he hasn't acclimatised as well as some of the other horses we've brought over. But we're not sending out alarm signals because the horse is in good shape and ready to run this week. We've got to make a decision based on what's right for the horse."

Adair was part of Bill Mott's academy in the United States last year until he easily won a nine-furlong contest at Belmont Park on his racecourse debut. That was enough to get Godolphin excited and they signed the son of Theatrical for a reputed $3m.

Adair clearly showed something in the desert during the winter as he was the preferred mount of Frankie Dettori in the private Classic trial at Nad Al Sheba. In the event, he finished third to Island Sands and Mukhalif in the dress rehearsal. Now he must perform in front of an audience. Now he must go on from Belmont.

"He won easily that day but that was against maidens. What we've got to do now is see him against better opposition," Crisford added. "All he's done is win a maiden so we need public evidence as much as anyone else, the evidence of the racetrack. We like him, we think he's a good horse, but he's still a little bit weak and he's the type of horse who will continue to improve. He worked well on Friday morning and the trip will be perfect for him."

Adair apart, Godolphin are still considering Slip Stream, Mukhalif (another possible runner at York this week) and Dubai Millennium for the Derby. The last-named recently displayed his Classic eligibility at Doncaster. "We had to get him back on the track because he'd been behind schedule in Dubai," Crisford said. "That accounted for his poor showing in the trial but we had to start him back somewhere.

"By the time we got him back for Doncaster everything was ready. But we wouldn't want to run him on fast ground. He could go for a race like the Predominate [Stakes at Goodwood next week]."

Godolphin already have one big race in the bag following Island Sands' 2,000 Guineas and, in a week's time, there may be a lot more. In addition to York, their European champion, Intikhab, reappears in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. Worldly Manner runs in the Preakness Stakes in America, while Lend A Hand turns out in Japan. They have runners in the French Classics, runners in German Classics.

"We had three horses running before Island Sands and all finished second," Crisford said. "I know people expect us do well but they're not all going to win first time out. We've started well but there are big goals to achieve in the future." Think of all those potential prizes in the next week alone. Think of all those duty-frees.

DANTE STAKES (York, Wednesday): Ladbrokes: 7-4 Beat All, 3-1 Adair, 4- 1 Golden Snake, 8-1 Glamis, 10-1 Muhtaahab, 12-1 Markan, 14-1 Mukhalif, 25-1 High King, Mensa, Salford Express, William Shakespeare, 33-1 Yakareem, 100-1 The Exhibition Fox.

Tote sell-off row, page 15