Racing: Tenby flop still puzzles Cecil: Epsom came down to earth yesterday after the Derby favourite's eclipse. Richard Edmondson reports

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The Independent Online
LITTER on the ground and a jumble of excuses in the air here yesterday as talk of Tenby's Derby failure dominated a hollow second day of the Blue Riband meeting.

Shorn of Classic anticipation and suffering from the residue of day one, Epsom was a dire place, especially perhaps for those who returned after backing the odds-on favourite on Wednesday.

The little colt has been thoroughly examined for an explanation into his deplorable effort, but no easy answer is forthcoming.

'Tenby has been exhaustively tested and there does not appear to be anything wrong with him,' Henry Cecil, the horse's trainer, said. 'I had him scoped this morning and blood-tested him.' Results of a dope test on the horse will be known in a few days' time.

A problem has surfaced, though, with another of the leading colts at Warren Place, Armiger, who will miss Sunday's Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly on Sunday.

'Armiger has a slight strain on his off-fore shin and while we might have been prepared to run had the ground been soft that is not the situation,' Cecil said.

Khalid Abdullah, Armiger's owner, will now be represented principally by Criquette Head's Regency, the mount of Pat Eddery, while the sole British challenger will be Peter Chapple-Hyam's Newton's Law.

Abdullah's Derby winner, Commander In Chief, has been provisionally recognised as an average winner of the Classic. Anthony Arkwright, a Jockey Club handicapper, said yesterday that the colt would be allotted a rating of 127, between the poles of Quest For Fame (123) and Shergar and Generous (135).

To get to this figure, however, Arkwright has had to upgrade the second, third and fourth - Blue Judge, Blues Traveller and Cairo Prince - by about a stone, and it may be some time yet before Commander In Chief's true merit can safely be recognised.

Opera House has proved his quality and consistency over the years, and Michael Stoute's colt finally won a Group One race, the Coronation Cup, here yesterday to justify forking out the training bills for another season.

The five-year-old came home ahead of Apple Tree and Environment Friend in a blanket finish, but the placings were later reversed as Thierry Jarnet, Apple Tree's French jockey, suffered an Epsom down for the second consecutive season.

Jarnet, who had a buffeted passage on the subsequent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, Subotica, 12 months ago, was demoted a place this time for causing interference.

There was comfort for another jockey, however, as Opera House's success represented a first Group One victory for the jockey and owner axis of Michael Roberts and Sheikh Mohammed. It was also the Sheikh's first win at the highest level since Zieten captured Newmarket's Middle Park Stakes last October.

Roberts, who rides Intrepidity for the Arab owner in tomorrow's Oaks, can also look forward to a fruitful alliance with the Derby fifth, Barathea. Luca Cumani's colt is to be rested and then dropped back in distance, either to the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown or York's International Stakes.

Environment Friend may also run in the Eclipse - if his energy holds out. The grey horse has been the subject of an interesting initiative by his owner and breeder, Bill Gredley, who pressed the horse into stud duties earlier this year before returning him to training.

'I think this could change the whole concept of breeding and training,' Gredley said. 'Wouldn't it be great if our good horses were not packed off to stud, but covered early in the season and then returned to the racecourse as four-year-olds? It's just dyed in the wool tradition that has stopped it happening before.'

Environment Friend has serviced 40 mares this spring, the last nine days ago, and has slipped easily into his dual role. 'He's an amazing horse because he does his stud duties and then walks through the stud as quiet as gelding, without calling out,' Gredley said. 'A typical day for him has been a couple of canters in the morning, followed by covering in the afternoon.' And then, presumably, a long lie down in the evening.

THE OAKS (Epsom, tomorrow): Ladbrokes: 7-2 Yawl, 5-1 Intrepidity & Wemyss Bight, 6-1 Marillette, 8-1 Sueboog, 10-1 Bashayer, 16-1 Abury, Gisarne & Oakmead, 20 Iviza, 25 Alouette & Royal Ballerina, 100 Bobbie Dee, 200 Grove Daffodil; William Hill: 4-1 Yawl, 9-2 Wemyss Bight, 6-1 Intrepidity, 13-2 Marillette, 7-1 Sueboog, 8-1 Bashayer, 12-1 Gisarne, 14-1 Oakmead, 16-1 Iviza, 20 Alouette, 25 Abury, 50 Royal Ballerina, 200 others.

(Photograph omitted)

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