Racing: Hula Angel descends as Wince wilts

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The Independent Online
THE CURRENCY of English Classic form took a thumping during foreign exchanges over the weekend. Island Sands, the 2,000 Guineas winner, was the first to appear counterfeit when he was left seven lengths behind Saffron Waldon in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh on Saturday. And then, 24 hours later, Wince too appeared a pale imitation of the filly that conquered at Newmarket as Hula Angel won for Britain, if not the form book, in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Hula Angel had been four lengths behind Wince on the July course, but, while she appeared to have come on for that experience, Henry Cecil's filly performed lethargically, as if Newmarket had been a terrible drain on her resources. It was the same conclusion we had drawn with Island Sands the day before. A startling statistic remains in the record books. No 1,000 Guineas winner has followed up at the Curragh in the Irish race's 77-year history.

Hula Angel's success provided a second Irish Guineas for the personal and professional team of Barry Hills and son Michael. They had been winners six years earlier with Nicer. "She has done it well today," the trainer said. "The ground was on the fast side for her at Newmarket. Obviously the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot is on the agenda, but I would like to run her over a mile and a quarter at some stage and she could go for the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood."

Wince will go, more immediately, for a check-up. She was examined by racecourse vets and reported to be in a "normal post-race condition". Henry Cecil, though, saw early signs of an explanation for his filly's demise. "She isn't quite sound," the trainer said.

Island Sands, too, will have to rebuild a reputation, though his failure was partially masked by the credit given to Saffron Waldon, who was shortened to 6-1 favourite for the Derby by Ladbrokes yesterday. Aidan O'Brien's colt has always been considered a stayer by connections, but the burst of acceleration he showed on Saturday had others questioning the extent of his stamina.

The genes swilling around in Saffron Waldon's genetic melting pot are thus. His sire, Sadler's Wells, is the dominant stallion of this generation, a horse who generally passes on a capacity to stay middle distances. Connections on his dam's side, however, make him a half-brother to the very fast Dolphin Street. He did not stay a mile and a half in his horsebox. What this makes Saffron Waldon we do not yet know, but he has performed thus far like a colt which will get the Derby distance. "If you didn't know about his pedigree, you would have no worries about him staying," O'Brien said yesterday. "In every race he's had he's been gaining momentum at the end of the race. We thought at two he would be our Dewhurst horse and the trip didn't worry us at all, but he pulled muscles in his hind quarters. Olivier Peslier said the trip will be no problem."

Olivier Peslier also said yesterday he would not mind riding Saffron Waldon in the Derby. That delight, though, is reserved for the Ballydoyle stable jockey, Michael Kinane. Like O'Brien, Peslier believes the colt will improve with racing. "At the beginning [of the race] it was not that he was lazy. He just needs some good action and regular races," the Frenchman said. "Two furlongs out I thought I was just heading for a place but then I smacked the horse and he was really going. I went to the outside and then he just lengthened and kept going. He was fighting very well. Just before the end he changed his legs, but that was not because he was tired. I think he will stay. He is a nice, relaxed horse."

Peslier now has to undermine his Saturday victor, almost certainly from the vantage point of the seat on Andre Fabre's Val Royal, who will be tested with a serious piece of work tomorrow. After that excursion, Peslier will know more about how much chance he has of retaining the crown he won on High-Rise last June. "It is so wonderful to win the big races," he said. "And people say it is impossible to win the big races every year like the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, so that is when I like to win most of all." On 5 June it will be the race they all want to win most of all. And the evidence of Saturday is that it will be Aidan O'Brien and Michael Kinane who have their wishes fulfilled.

CURRAGH

4.15: (1m 3yo fillies Irish 1,000 Guineas) 1. HULA ANGEL (M Hills) 16- 1; 2. Golden Silca 25-1; 3. Dazzling Park 40-1. 17 ran. 5-4 fav Wince. (B Hills). Tote: pounds 16.60; pounds 3.80, pounds 11.90, pounds 13.90. Reverse: pounds 308.10. CSF: pounds 350.39. NR: Morning Breeze.

n At Longchamp yesterday, Croco Rouge beat the Japanese raider El Condor Pasa by three-quarters of a length in the Prix D'Ispahan, while Cerulean Sky sprang a 29.7-1 surprise in the Prix Saint-Alary. The Peter Chapple- Hyam trained Mother Of Pearl was only fifth. Kayf Tara won the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier while, in Italy, John Dunlop's pair, Signorina Cattiva and Barafamy, were third and fourth respectively to the German challenger Nagoya in the Oaks d'Italia in Milan.

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