Cape's charge fails to kick Murtagh's Abbey habit

The second Epsom trial at the York meeting proved a mirror image of the first, each in turn suggesting reflected glories. In both cases, connections of the winner remained adamant that they had a better one at home. On Wednesday, after saddling Aviate to win the Musidora Stakes, Henry Cecil had insisted that Timepiece looked a superior candidate for the Investec Oaks on the gallops. And yesterday Johnny Murtagh dismounted Cape Blanco after the Totesport Dante Stakes to confirm unequivocally that St Nicholas Abbey, beaten on his reappearance in the 2,000 Guineas, is still the outstanding Derby colt at Ballydoyle.

Whether these reflected glories prove flattering remains to be seen. Cape Blanco, like Aviate, had maintained an unbeaten record with authority. But while Totesport duly cut his Epsom odds to 7-2 from 14-1, they also trimmed St Nicholas Abbey to 5-2 from 3-1.

Funnily enough, while St Nicholas Abbey's failure over a mile has necessarily seen him depicted as more of a staying type, this success over 10 furlongs could not stifle reservations over Cape Blanco's stamina for the extra distance in the Derby. Though his sire, Galileo, will clearly help in that respect, his dam is a half-sister to that streak of lightning Paris House, and herself never won beyond five furlongs. It is a pedigree reminiscent of Rip Van Winkle, who ultimately proved most effective over a mile for the stable last year.

Either way, Cape Blanco looks an authentic Group One colt. Always highly regarded last year, when he won all three starts over seven furlongs, he was allowed to start at 9-2 for his reappearance despite facing just four rivals – reflecting disquiet over lack of momentum in the Ballydoyle three-year-olds this spring. But he was always going with gusto before responding purposefully to pressure, drawing over three lengths clear of Workforce.

Workforce had come here as the bookmakers' leading home candidate for Epsom, but inexperience and discomfort on the quick ground together caused him to hang unhappily from the home turn. The impression was exacerbated by the bit slipping through his mouth, but he eventually organised himself sufficiently to wear down Co-ordinated Cut for second close home. Chabal ran deplorably, however, first off the bridle and never threatening to rally. "It's very disappointing as we thought we had a Derby horse," Frankie Dettori said. "It was too bad to be true."

Conditions have palpably inhibited quite a few horses at this meeting. Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Workforce, felt his colt would prefer easier going and reserved judgement on Epsom. Teddy Grimthorpe, the owner's racing manager, rightly observed that "second in a Group Two on his second start is not a catastrophe by any means".

The winner himself, according to Murtagh, relished the ground – having struggled in softer going on his final start at two. It was alarming, then, to hear rumours that he had returned sore to the racecourse stables. Those supervising the horse played down such suggestions, but the colt was thought to be under official observation before travelling back to Ireland.

Aidan O'Brien himself was not present, but his stable jockey was confident Cape Blanco had run a solid trial. "He'd handle everything Epsom would throw at him," Murtagh said. "He has good temperament and balance, and plenty of speed. I'm not sure about the stamina, but you often need that question mark in your head going to Epsom."

The uncertainty would not extend, however, to his likely mount. Was St Nicholas Abbey still his number one? "Yes," he said firmly. "I haven't been getting them right too often but please God, if the horse who won the Racing Post Trophy shows up, I will this time."

Epsom is meanwhile also on the agenda for Sariska, who made all the running in the Totesport Middleton Stakes, Midday's pursuit proving very awkward on the ground. Even in victory Sariska's jockey, Jamie Spencer, was scathing about the conditions. "There are trials on at this meeting and the ground shouldn't be as firm as that for any racehorse in this day and age," he complained.

Sariska, at any rate, has clearly flourished very much as her physique promised from three to four. Michael Bell, her trainer, will now send her back to the scene of her Oaks success for the Investec Coronation Cup. There is a last chance, incidentally, for the next Oaks winner to announce herself in the Swettenham Stud Fillies' Trial at Newbury today. Highlight of the last day at York, meanwhile, is the Emirates Airline Yorkshire Cup, where Manifest (2.40) can prove himself a rising star.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Murura (6.50 Hamilton) Suggested he can improve past his initial rating when managing second after missing the break last time, and back over another furlong here.

Next best

Fortuni (2.10 York) Had just begun to flourish when disappearing last summer and trainer's perseverance commands respect. Could be type to return for the Ebor.

One to watch

Mabuya (P J Makin) Was gelded over the winter and looked much improved at Ffos Las last week, flying close home after being delayed in traffic.

Where the money's going

Akdarena, impressive at Naas on Wednesday evening, is 12-1 from 14-1 with William Hill for the Investec Oaks.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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?
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Microsoft Gold partner, our c...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum