Betterbetterbetter best for Ballydoyle


With Camelot looming tomorrow, and six fillies in the Investec Oaks today, Aidan O'Brien and his patrons at Coolmore have every chance of making it four wins from four British Classics this season.

That is a mortifying prospect for the sport's other superpower. Certainly, you cannot overstate the value to Godolphin of a big run today from Kailani. Notoriously, the stable's cupboard is otherwise so bare that Frankie Dettori, its senior rider, finds himself without a mount in either Epsom Classic for the first time since 1992 (excepting 2000, when injured in a plane crash).

Dettori, marooned at Haydock tomorrow, must sit in the changing room today and watch Mickael Barzalona ride Kailani. He will be less surprised than many by this indignity, their employers having made it explicit – when adding Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa to their team this year – that winning partnerships were unlikely to be broken up. Being overlooked for the mount on the stable's top Derby hope was another matter, albeit Mandaean ran so deplorably in his trial at York that the affront had no lasting consequence.

Kailani is certainly bred for the job as a daughter of Kazzia, the 2002 winner. And none of the trials was won with greater emphasis than the Pretty Polly Stakes, in which she careered seven lengths clear. She was still green, having won her only start at two, and the genes of her sire, Monsun, promise better again over the extra two furlongs. It is difficult, however, to know the substance of that form. Conditions were pretty awful, and none of her legless pursuers has since run with any distinction. For now, Kailani represents too great a leap of faith.

Earlier that same afternoon O'Brien had won the 1,000 Guineas, albeit not with the filly most expected – Homecoming Queen's startling transformation, out in front, having condemned Maybe to third. Undaunted, punters have again identified Maybe as the top Ballydoyle hope today, and the young stable jockey seems to agree. But there must be a doubt whether even her sire, Galileo, can get the daughter of a sprinting mare home over the extra half-mile.

The Co Tipperary yard could none the less be hard to stop. While O'Brien is intending to withdraw Kissed, unless there is ease in the ground, his Classic outsiders often repay a second look. Homecoming Queen herself bore that out, while Peeping Fawn had been beaten in three April maidens the year she set up a Group One spree with an unlucky half-length defeat in the Oaks.

Devotion is certainly capable of radical improvement at this trip, at 66-1, but perhaps the best value is Betterbetterbetter – which is exactly what we can expect, after a disappointing reverse in her trial at Chester.

A number of pleas in mitigation are available for what happened that day. It certainly remains easy to believe she was much the best filly in the race, having cruised into the lead before faltering and somehow being nailed on the line by a 50-1 shot.

Perhaps she was floundering in the difficult ground; perhaps she was green, in her first start outside maidens, or idling in front; perhaps a combination of all three. But it is surely significant that O'Brien reckons it worth coming with a filly still early in her career, with a top-class pedigree and looks to match.

It would be wrong, clearly, to imagine that the home defence will submit meekly to his cavalry. The Fugue has an obvious chance, having belied her inexperience with a fine run in the Guineas before being turned out quickly to win her trial at York in great style. Classy and progressive, she should have no problem with the extra distance, but hardly represents value. The York form is questionable, for one thing, but a graver concern is that an inexperienced filly is being asked to raise her game for a third start inside four weeks.

Vow has loads of raw ability, and is in the best of hands, but it was alarming to see her drift so naively off the turn at Lingfield. Though the stiffer track will suit her well, its bewildering configuration is another matter. Colima, the Lingfield runner-up, had no chance the way the race developed, while Shirocco Star is another that could definitely build on defeat in her trial. She travelled well at Newbury, could take a big step forward over the trip, and is tempting at 20-1 with Ladbrokes.

But nothing represents better value than Colm O'Donoghue's mount. On the basis that she will need restraining longer than at Chester, Betterbetterbetter should relish the big field and likely strong pace, and her underrated jockey rides Epsom extremely well. Two of her close relations, Yesterday and Quarter Moon, finished second in the Oaks. She looks value at 33-1 to settle those scores for her family.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Head Space (5.35 Newcastle) Has shaped with increasing promise since joining this yard, best of those held up at Haydock the other day after travelling well.

Next best

Worthadd (2.50 Epsom) One of Italy's top performers has been found a good home following his trainer's retirement, and landed running in Germany last month.

One to watch

Caskelena (Sir Michael Stoute) Has a top middle-distance pedigree and shaped nicely in a debut spin over the sharp mile round Lingfield last weekend.

Where the money's going

Some William Hill punters are prepared to take on Camelot in the Investec Derby, forcing Mickdaam down to 25-1 from 33-1 and Cavaleiro to 40-1 from 66-1.

sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all