Racing: Island in splendid isolation: Chapple-Hyam's Turtle hurtles clear in Irish 2,000 Guineas to win by widest Classic margin in living memory

TURTLE ISLAND proved his name a part-misnomer yesterday as he won the Irish 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh. If the reptile prefix was disproved, however, the rest of the colt's name was greatly applicable as he finished isolated, some 15 lengths ahead of his nearest pursuer, Guided Tour, who short-headed Ridgewood Ben for second place.

Turtle Island's ease of victory was all the more surprising considering he was held up in last place for much of the way. But, in the late stages, he swooped and, unlike last Sunday at Longchamp, where he finished second in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas), this time the manoeuvre was irresistible.

This wide margin of victory had mouths spreading widely in appreciation, not least from the colt's trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam. 'He didn't get the rub of the green in France and perhaps I had been too easy on him and I knew he would come on for the race,' he said. 'After Colonel Collins finished third at Newmarket (to Mister Baileys in the 2,000 Guineas) I knew we had the best milers covered. Colonel Collins can't live with Turtle Island over a mile at home and now we will take on anyone over a mile. He is some horse, as good as I have ever trained.'

Chapple-Hyam, though, was not alone in his eulogies for a horse who was the easiest European Classic winner in living memory. John Reid, Turtle Island's jockey, was also fairly emphatic. 'When he gets cut in the ground he is different class,' he said. 'I have a very soft spot for Dr Devious (his 1992 Derby winner) but he could not have produced a performance like this.'

And the praise did not stop there. As Chapple-Hyam mapped out a route for Turtle Island, which is likely to take in either Sandown's Eclipse Stakes or the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, with the Breeders' Cup Classic as the golden egg at the end of the season, the horse's owner, Robert Sangster, was supplying recommendation of the highest quality.

'Vincent O'Brien is a great friend and a great old dog, but this is a young fellow at 31 going well,' Sangster, who has Las Meninas in this weekend's Irish 1,000 Guineas, said. 'It's nice to start a new dynasty while appreciating the Vincent O'Brien days.'

Among Turtle Island's retinue in his favoured soft ground were Grand Lodge (fourth), Indhar (sixth) and Gneiss (seventh). Manntari, the home hope and the Aga Khan's supposed latest wonder horse, led into the straight but faded to finish last of nine.

Elsewhere, British influence was less imposing, typically on the same Irish card, where Ezzoud and Revelation dead- heated for third behind Perfect Imposter in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

At Longchamp, in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas), Francois Boutin's East Of The Moon came into the reckoning for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot when landing the prize for Stavros Niarchos. Britain's sole representative, Paul Cole's Velvet Moon, the mount of Richard Quinn, was second into the straight but dropped out to finish seventh of eight.

In Tokyo, Sayyedati could manage only seventh behind the locally trained North Flight in the Yasuda Kinen, beaten five lengths.

Muhtarram, ridden by Willie Carson, beat fellow Newmarket challenger, Needle Gun, by two and a half lengths in the pounds 52,201 Premio Presidente della Repubblica at the Capannelle in Rome.

(Photograph omitted)

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