Dr Devious and St Jovite may sound like villain and saviour fighting it out on the edge of Armageddon in some sci-fi comic, but in fact there is nothing grim about their presence on the 1992 Flat racing scene. The tradition of brief encounters which has characterised the Classic generations in recent years is firmly suspended, and it will not encourage the connections of St Jovite to think that Peter Chapple-Hyam, Dr Devious's trainer, is prepared for an early resumption of the struggle.
At the root of Chapple-Hyam's boldness is the belief that Dr Devious was short of full fitness when finishing fourth in the International Stakes at York last week and was a ghost of his Derby-winning self when crawling home behind St Jovite at The Curragh. The joy for Chapple-Hyam is that he enters the final phase of the season with his team as formidable as it was in the spring, when Rodrigo De Triano captured the 2,000 Guineas here and in Ireland and Dr Devious triumphed at Epsom.
'They've had a bit of a break and been brought back for an autumn campaign,' Chapple-Hyam said yesterday, while admitting that after the harvest of May and June, he found it difficult to expect a continuation of such fame-conferring afternoons. He says Dr Devious is in 'very good form', and contends that the 10 furlongs of the Irish Champion Stakes will 'definitely' suit Dr Devious more than St Jovite, who looks to have been born to race over a mile and a half.
The prospect of a series of high-grade encounters over middle-distances is strengthened still further when you recall that User Friendly and Suave Dancer - just - are also on this circuit. Though Rodrigo De Triano was successful over 10 and a half furlongs at York he is unlikely to be asked to travel the extra distance and into Dr Devious's territory.
'I very much doubt it,' Chapple-Hyam said. 'He'd need to have rock hard ground. If I ever thought about it the Arc would be the only race he'd go for. But the chances are very slim.' Both Rodrigo De Triano and Dr Devious are prospective candidates for Breeders' Cup races at Gulfstream Park, Florida, while the latter will also be considered for the Japan Cup in Tokyo in late November.
The thought of which - the end of the season, that is - prompts the question of whether Chapple-Hyam can extend his march through the profession into next year. From only 121 runners - Richard Hannon has sent out 742 - Chapple-Hyam is fifth in the trainers' table and has accumulated pounds 773,000 in prize-money from just 21 victories.
The fact which never ceases to amaze is that when Chapple-Hyam began at Manton he was training the lowliest of Robert Sangster's output, which was entirely natural given the gamble Sangster had taken in installing an unknown at the country's most ambitiously-conceived training centre.
'I haven't seen a Rodrigo or Dr Devious yet but overall they're a better bunch than last year and they're starting to pull themselves together now,' Chapple-Hyam says of his two-year-olds. 'They're more of a late-maturing bunch, and as long as we don't get too excited about them and try and turn them into swans too soon we'll be all right.' He certainly should be.
Tapis Rouge, trained by Henry Cecil, returned from a long layoff to take yesterday's Bentinck Graduation Stakes at Nottingham, impressing both the trainer and his jockey, Steve Cauthen, in the process. Next month's St Leger at Doncaster may come too soon for him, however, and Allegan will probably be the only runner from Cecil's 11-strong entry in the final Classic. The son of Alleged was well-regarded in the spring before meeting with a setback four months ago, but is expected to reappear in the March Stakes at Goodwood on Saturday.Reuse content