Richard Hannon's Geisway was the victor, benefiting from a ride that demonstrated why Lester Piggott has nine Epsom trophies in his cabinet.
Defeats on Lochsong and Lucky Guest at York last week, when he went too fast and then not fast enough respectively, suggested that the Long Fellow had grown short on inspiration. But the way he produced Geisway on the line to beat Beneficial yesterday proved the skills have not evaporated.
'I was good there,' (expletive deleted), Piggott told connections. The bookmakers did not think much of the form, however, and though Geisway was cut for the Derby he remains a 25-1 chance with William Hill.
Given the slow time of the race and the deplorable credentials of the Predominate as a Classic trial this is not an attractive mark. The last horse to win here and go on to Epsom success was Troy in 1979, while the sole runner from the race to make the frame in 10 years is Elmaamul, three years ago.
Piggott, in fact, is far more likely to team up with his most rewarding fount of Derby glory, Vincent O'Brien, who has the Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up, Fatherland, in the race.
As Piggott discussed his Classic options in laborious monosyllables with hungry pressmen hanging on his every mumble, it was clear that here was a man above all others who could make sense of the tag of living legend. Like Gazza, Piggott could make breaking wind an art form and would probably get applauded for doing so.
When it comes to disguising words, the 57-year-old can teach Ray Allan a thing or two, but the essence of his mutterings yesterday seemed to be that Geisway would struggle to manage 12 furlongs on the Surrey Downs.
'He's just a good sort of horse, that's all you can say really,' Piggott said, and the emphasis was on the just rather than the good.
Geisway's prize money of pounds 16,500 at least wiped out the pounds 10,000 it cost Paul Green, his owner, to supplement for the Derby.
Green has only recently got his appetite for racing back following the death of his Mr Brooks in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last October.
'That was a shellshock and I didn't want to dive back in too quickly,' he said. 'It was almost like a loss in the family. He had given us so much fun.'
Geisway can hardly do worse in the Derby than Mr Brooks, who was last behind Quest For Fame in 1990, but there are contingency plans if the colt does not prove himself a force this summer. 'He's built to be a Champion Hurdler, isn't he?' Green said.
Geisway was one of 29 horses to be declared for the Derby at yesterday's forfeit stage, when just three of Sheikh Mohammed's entry of 28 remained in the list. The most interesting entry is Michael Dickinson's Wolf Prince, who may become the first American- trained horse to contest the Classic since Slewpy was last to Teenoso (jockey: living legend) in 1983.
Wolf Prince has won five of his six races, including three stakes races which go by the prosaic titles of the Tent Up, the Dancing Count and the Dave's Friend.
But even as Goodwood's card closed with a race named the Cocked Hat Handicap, there was a reminder that the 214th Derby remains in the shadow of one horse. Reflecting won that event, but the colt that has won the race for Classic acceptability is his half-brother, a horse called Tenby.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content