Racing: Prescott makes a Dash for a Classic

YOUNG FAMILIES have been rushing past the gates of Heath House in Newmarket this week following news of the great master's swift deterioration.

Sir Mark Prescott, the champion of the amateur conditions event, the trainer who won seven of the first nine claimers to be run in Britain, the great manipulator in handicaps, is beginning to slip away. Confirmation of his fading faculties came in a simple and saddening gesture. He is about to run one of his string in a Classic. "I don't know what's come over me," Prescott said from his resting place yesterday. "I must have gone potty.

"I'm very worried about it [Triple Dash's entry in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas], especially as I've had no pressure from the owners to run. I can't blame them. It's all very unlikely and I don't know quite what I'm doing."

This, of course, is not exactly true. Prescott's title of honour was not bestowed to a dribbling nobleman who left his brains at the portcullis. The baronet has spent the near 30 years of his life with a licence excavating for treasures in the programme book. He used to be as much a scourge of the North as Rob Roy until others followed in his cartwheels. And then he found other areas to exploit.

Throughout it all, though, there were never any big winners and critics viewed Prescott as the natural counterbalance to the Quixotic Clive Brittain and Paul Kelleway - a man who kept his horses below their level. Whatever the merit to that argument, they can never say again that Sir Mark does not win major races. Pivotal provided him with his first Group One in York's Nunthorpe Stakes two years ago and there have been the flying fillies Last Second and Alborada recently too. But there has only ever been one Classic runner from Heath House and even that was on the Continent. Red Camellia finished third, beaten less than a length, in the 1997 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas).

It would probably have stayed like that had Prescott not been visited. As the curtains billowed in the wind last year he had a vision of the 1999 2,000 Guineas. "In my little dream world I'd thought of a plan, particularly as Triple Dash is a very useful horse in soft ground," he says. "We're running on the July course, which has got the stiffest last furlong of any track in the country. It has been watered every year for 30 years in the summer, and if we get a lot of rain it will be a morass.

"In my little fantasy world I imagined some wonderful horse emerging that would start odds-on and frighten the life out of everyone. There would be seven or eight runners, on this morass, and the fancied horse would do too much and I'd come along and fluke it.

"But the Almighty isn't on my side because he chucked the bucket of water on the July course last weekend instead of this. And the real good thing hasn't materialised. Everyone who's got half a racehorse is poling up."

It is, nevertheless, remarkable that Prescott is attending with his portion. Heath House does not usually awake from winter slumber until it hears the jangle of Morris Men around the Maypole. "I'm always out of form until the middle of the year," Prescott admits. "But then I always think the Classics come far too soon. The Guineas comes very early and the Derby is up hill and down dale on ground too fast, but that's what it's all about. That's all part of trying to find a very good horse. A proper horse will come early and still last the season.

"But, along the way, there have been endless good horses ruined just so they could get to the Guineas. Careers sacrificed on the altar of 1 May. But my horse has come to himself and I've had no difficulty getting him ready. I haven't done anything with him that I didn't want to do.

"I believe all horses develop in their own time. It's a bit like flowers. Daffodils come at this time of the year, tulips come next and then it's the poppies. Depending on what sort of horse you've got, he comes naturally at some point."

Triple Dash was a coming horse among the outsiders with William Hill yesterday. He is now 50-1 (from 66-1) for the first colts' Classic. "He's healthy and he's well and there doesn't look to be a terrifying, terrifying horse in there," Prescott said. "He'll run as long as the ground doesn't get firm."

There may be a different reason for Bountiful Lady's non-participation in the fillies' equivalent, Sunday's 1,000 Guineas. She is trained by another of Newmarket's titled inhabitants, Sir Michael Stoute, but even his influence may not be able to get her inside the July Course safety limit of 23 runners.

Bountiful Lady is the 27th and lowest rated of those declared at the five-day stage, despite winning her only race, and can run only if others defect. Magda, Jig and Lamzena are also in danger.

This is of no matter to Steven Drowne, who has been given a debut Guineas opportunity aboard Mick Channon's Golden Silca. "I sat on her this morning and she worked very nicely," the jockey best known for his handicap alliances with Hard To Figure and Sea Freedom said. "She is a game filly who was second in her trial and will have an outside chance."

Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
People walk through Autumn leaves in St James's Park yesterday
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits