Racing: Jarnet to lift Cup on Tree

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the less desirable trophies on offer at Epsom this afternoon is the Freddie Head Memorial Shield, awarded by disgruntled punters to any French jockey whose sense of direction deserts him around the tight downland turns. Last year's winner, Thierry Jarnet, will be keen to avoid a repeat success.

Most criticisms of foreign riders are a 50-50 mix of sour grapes and prejudice, but a Group One race such as today's Coronation Cup can be an unforgiving stage for a riding debut around Epsom. In last year's race Jarnet, riding the subsequent Arc winner Subotica, steered with a taxi driver's nose for traffic jams before pulling around his field and running on into fourth. The Francophobes will give him the Shield to keep if he takes a similar path on Apple Tree in today's renewal.

Apple Tree has the beating of Zinaad on form from the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in April, and his biggest challenger seems sure to be User Friendly, last year's Oaks and St Leger winner and runner-up to Subotica in the Arc. Her fitness is a worry, and while she was straight enough to win first time up last year, she was not chasing a six-figure purse. Apple Tree (next best 3.40) is worth backing to redeem Jarnet's reputation.

The quality of the supporting races at the Derby meeting has long attracted criticism, but the Jockey Club's new grading system offers conclusive proof. All five today are Class D (for dreadful), and risky betting mediums as a result.

One rule to remember is that a horse drawn low on the five- furlong course would need to emerge from the stalls driving a Ferrari to have any chance. SOBER LAD (nap 4.10), drawn eight of 12, should emphasise the point now that he is returned to the minimum trip.

Powerful Edge (3.00) can outclass his field - several of the runners would struggle to win a seller - while Daswaki (4.45) returned to form last time and thrives on switch-back courses.

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