Beauty deflates Ballydoyle's Derby build-up

Although the two Classics at Epsom this weekend, the Derby and the Oaks, are rightly at the forefront of anticipation, there are so many other facets to the sport, not least the quest to find a successor to the peerless Yeats. The exploits of the great horse, who completed an unprecedented Ascot Gold Cup four-timer last June, revitalised interest in the staying division, but his retirement at the end of the season left an imposing set of horseshoes to fill.

Hopes that his erstwhile Ballydoyle stablemate Age Of Aquarius could fill the void, though, stuttered at Leopardstown yesterday, when the four-year-old appeared to own neither the class nor stamina to cope with the Dermot Weld-trained Profound Beauty in the Saval Beg Stakes. The mare, ridden by Pat Smullen, was always travelling the better as the pair drew clear of their rivals in the straight and had a cosy length to spare at the line over the 2-5 favourite.

Profound Beauty, who carries the famous black-and-white Moyglare Stud colours, is a proven marathon woman with a progressive profile and may yet be improving further at the age of six; yesterday was her first outing for eight months and Age Of Aquarius was race-fit. She has been beaten, though, in all three of her tries at the top level in the past three seasons – the Irish Oaks, the Melbourne Cup and the Irish St Leger – and does not hold an entry for next month's Ascot long-distance showpiece.

Her long-term target this season, via the Curragh Cup and perhaps the Yorkshire Oaks, is another tilt at Australia's best-known contest, a two-mile handicap in which she finished a creditable fifth, beaten less than three lengths, two years ago. "I do think she's better than she was last year," said Smullen, "and it felt as if she's even getting a shade quicker in the finish. I may have asked her to go to the front a bit soon, but I'd no choice – as soon as I gave her a squeeze she took me there. She got a bit tired in the last 100 yards but class always tells and she got me home."

Weld already has two Melbourne Cups on his CV, with Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle, the only European trainer to take the prize. "If everything goes right through the year we'll take her back there," he said. "She's a joy to train."

After Age Of Aquarius's defeat Manifest, trained by Henry Cecil, hardened as favourite for the Gold Cup. Aidan O'Brien, though, was far from disheartened by the effort of the white-faced four-year-old, who was conceding weight to the winner. "I'm delighted with him," he said, "and he'll come forward for it. The idea is to go to Ascot."

A defeat for an odds-on shot, though, will not have been the ideal start to Derby week for the trainer, who will finalise his stable's running and riding arrangements for the premier Classic after his contenders go through their final workouts tomorrow and Wednesday.

Ahead of Friday's Oaks, Michael Jarvis confirmed an ambitious schedule for Sajjhaa, an eyecatching winner of her first and only start at Sandown 11 days ago by seven lengths. The King's Best filly, who carries the colours of Sheikh Ahmed al-Maktoum, will thus step straight from maiden to Group One company and was backed over the weekend, from 16-1 to half that price, to do it successfully.

"She's in great order," said Jarvis, who sent out Eswarah to take the Oaks five years ago with only two previous outings under her girth and Sajjhaa's grand-dam Noushkey to finish second in 1999. "They have only one year to have a crack at the Classics, so if you feel they are good enough they deserve the opportunity."

With a dry week forecast, watering of the track will start at Epsom this morning. "I'm calling the going good, good to firm in places," said the clerk of the course, Andrew Cooper, after inspecting underfoot conditions yesterday, "and it walks to me just on the fast side of good. It's lovely safe Flat racing ground and we want to maintain it."

Kieren Fallon took his first Classic of the year yesterday, albeit one of Europe's lesser ones. In the Italian Oaks in Milan, downgraded some years ago to Group Two level, he brought the Luca Cumani-trained Contredanse home by inches from another British raider, Richard Hannon's charge Middle Club. Contredanse had previously won two handicaps this year but on her final run at two had finished third behind Friday's Epsom favourite, Aviate.

Turf Account

Sue Montgomery's Nap

Iguacu (5.35 Leicester)

Has winning form over today's trip and will be sharper for his run at Lingfield 12 days ago, his first after a break. On a fair mark, further reduced by his rider's allowance.



Next best

Escape Artist (3.00 Redcar)

Showed a glimmer of ability in his three runs over an inadequate seven furlongs last year and makes his seasonal debut over a distance more in keeping with his breeding, by Act One out of a Shirley Heights mare.



One to watch

The Galileo filly Saggiatore (E A Dunlop) was comprehensively outpointed by Oaks contender Sajjhaa over 10 furlongs at Sandown as she acquired a handicap mark but will be seen to much better effect over further.



Where the money's going

Fame and Glory has been cut from 11-8 to 5-4 by Victor Chandler at the head of the market for Friday's Coronation Cup at Epsom.



Chris McGrath's Nap

Christmas Carnival (5.00 Leicester)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen