Racing: Oath out of showdown at the Curragh

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THE CHANCE to discover which is the best colt of the Classic generation over middle distances has been postponed. Oath, the Derby winner, worked poorly yesterday and will miss Sunday's confrontation in the Irish Derby with Daliapour and Beat All, the placed horses at Epsom, and Montjeu, the Prix du Jockey-Club victor.

Beat All, the Epsom third who already headed Ladbrokes' betting on the race, is now also 7-4 clear favourite with the Irish bookmakers Sean Graham and Cashmans.

A below-par performance on the gallops yesterday forced Oath's trainer, Henry Cecil, to cancel the colt's journey across the Irish Sea for his attempt to emulate the trainer's Commander In Chief in completing the Epsom/Irish Derby double.

Willie Carson, racing manager to Oath's owners, the Thoroughbred Corporation , said: "The next race will be the King George as long as he is all right. Horses are horses and not machines. It is just as well he has gone off a few days before the race and not on the day - that would have been even worse.

"He is not injured. He just put in a lacklustre piece of work which is not good enough before a big race. He had worked so well on Saturday morning and this morning he worked better than his pacemaker - but he did not go away and Kieren Fallon was not happy."

Cecil added: "I've been thrilled with Oath up to now, but today, just for some reason, in his final piece of work he was uninspiring."

Meanwhile, Montjeu is in "good shape" according to his trainer, John Hammond, who said yesterday: "Our position hasn't changed regarding the ground. At this time of year it can dry out very quickly and if the going is not to Montjeu's liking while he is over there I will not run him.

"At the present time, however, Montjeu travels to the Curragh and I expect him to run a big race."

Daliapour, runner-up in the Derby, is another that would be suited by an ease in conditions. A spokesman for his trainer, Luca Cumani, said: "Daliapour worked this morning and Mr Cumani was very happy with him. This will be his last piece of work before the race and we were also delighted to hear that 2mm of rain had fallen on the Curragh last night. There is also a forecast for rain on Saturday night.

Sunday's other important race for three-year-olds, the Group One Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, attracted 11 acceptors yesterday. Montjeu has been kept in the race in case the going is too firm at the Curragh, while Andre Fabre has left in Gracioso, Indian Danehill, Kingsalsa and Slickly. Godolphin's Dubai Millennium, Peter Chapple-Hyam's Brancaster and John Mulhern's Access All Areas are the three acceptors from Britain and Ireland.

Housemaster, fourth to Oath at Epsom, could make his next appearance in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood next month, after a poor effort at Royal Ascot last week when he finished sixth to Mutafaweq.

Harry Herbert, manager of Highclere Racing, the colt's owners, said: "His run at Ascot and is a bit of mystery but I think it probabaly came a bit too soon after Ascot."

n Peter Chapple-Hyam intends to run Ormelie in Northern Ireland's richest race, the pounds 50,000 Ulster Harp Derby at Down Royal on 13 July.