Cecil keeps Oaks options open after Aviate flies in

Victory in Musidora Stakes leaves her trainer unsure whether to run filly or rival Timepiece at Epsom Classic

In the same way that pets are said to resemble their masters, it seems that horses trained by Henry Cecil can borrow something of his own character. Certainly the filly who won the big race here yesterday had class, charm and courage; what is more, she offered a quizzical sense of the delicate connection between prolonged, private preparations and these brief moments of public acclaim. In answering one question, that is to say, Aviate only asked several more. As she thrust her head in front, even as the judge's camera clicked, she might as well have tilted it to one side and winked.

Aviate is now unbeaten in three starts and one firm hailed her success in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes by making her 4-1 favourite for the Investec Oaks – recognising, in the process, that the race had seemed in urgent need of fresh focus. To Cecil himself, however, the Epsom picture had only become more perplexing.

The man who should know – this was his ninth Musidora winner, and he has already won the Oaks eight times – reiterated afterwards that he has long viewed Timepiece, beaten in her own rehearsal at Lingfield last Saturday, as a superior candidate. "On her home work, I thought she was one of the best Oaks prospects I've had since I started training," he confessed. "I don't know what went wrong at Lingfield. It was a funny sort of race, they went very fast and afterwards she did blow in an extraordinary way – hard, but short."

He has had her scoped and found nothing amiss. Both Aviate and Timepiece are owned by his long-standing patron, Prince Khalid Abdullah, and Cecil will make a judgement on what they show him between now and 4 June. "I expect one could run in the French Oaks, or at Royal Ascot, and the other at Epsom," he said. "We'll feel our way. I'm sure they'll both tell me where they should go."

The only certainty is that Cecil's chosen representative will surely run a mighty race at Epsom. For now Totesport keep Rumoush as 6-1 favourite, from Aviate on 8-1 and Timepiece on 10-1.

Previously raced over a mile, Aviate was short of room for much of the straight yesterday and only just ran down Gold Bubbles after Eddie Ahern squeezed her along the rail. Eleanora Duse achieved her mission, gaining third, but Bikini Babe did not see out the race as seemed likely when getting them all off the bridle two out.

Ahern was confident that Aviate would last the extra distance at Epsom, and Cecil was inclined to agree. "I only ran her here to see if she would stay this far," he said. "I thought she probably would, because there's a Nijinsky cross [on either side of her pedigree]. It's difficult to assess. She had nowhere to go for most of the race. She's decent. But we'll see about Epsom. Time will tell."

Cecil returns today with the filly who so nearly won him the Oaks last year, Midday, in the Totesport Middleton Stakes. Her subsequent success at the Breeders' Cup requires Midday to concede 5lb to Sariska, who beat her in a photo at Epsom after herself impressing in the Musidora.

Sariska went on to win the Irish Oaks, as well, and did rather better than was realised at the time when turned over at 4-11 back at the Ebor meeting here. (The winner, Dar Re Mi, has since posted world-class performances in France, California and Dubai.) Her brawny physique entitles Sariska to flourish anew this term, but her connections are eager to see rain and Midday (2.10) is arguably most effective at this trip.

The big race on the card, however, remains the eponymous highlight of the three-day Dante meeting. Here, at last, we should learn whether Workforce – yet another rising star for Abdullah – can match his billing as the leading home candidate for the Investec Derby.

When he won a Goodwood maiden by six lengths last September, Workforce was awarded points for style, but not substance. It seemed a fairly modest race, but then the runner-up turned up at Newmarket and beat 21 rivals for a huge sales bonus. Having shown enough speed to win over seven furlongs round Goodwood, Workforce was at one stage touted for the 2,000 Guineas. But connections resolved to wait for this more traditional Epsom rehearsal, no doubt mindful of the fact that his dam is a sister to a St Leger winner in Brian Boru. As a son of King's Best, it could not be guaranteed that Workforce will get the Derby trip, but today's intermediate distance should prove comfortably within range.

He represents unpalatable value, however, against colts with runs already on the board this spring, in Chabal and Coordinated Cut, and the unbeaten Cape Blanco. The latter's contemporaries at Ballydoyle have not really landed running this spring, so while there may be better times ahead for all these, the preference today is for Chabal. The colt he beat at Sandown, Azmeel, won the Chester Vase last Friday and it should not be forgotten that Chabal (2.40) had the raw ability as a juvenile to fail only by a neck in Group One company just seven days after his debut.

As we saw yesterday, it can be hard to know which is the most valid currency of Classic speculation. For the time being, however, Workforce represents words, and Chabal deeds.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Rio Mist (4.45 Salisbury) Began life in handicaps off a light mark and duly bolted up at Nottingham before a storming finish when up in class off a 9lbs higher mark next time – suggesting that another, smaller rise can be offset by this sixth furlong.

Next best

Dubai Bounty (1.55 Salisbury) Unlucky not to get up in a three-way photo at Folkestone last time, round a track where it can be hard to reel in the leaders. Trainer and jockey both in form and this lightly raced filly remains entitled to further improvement.

One to watch

Rule Of Nature (Sir Michael Stoute) Has been unlucky to bump into Horseradish in both starts this spring, but the way she saw off the rest at Chester last week suggests she remains ahead of rivals.

Where the money's going

Showcasing's excellent comeback run at York yesterday prompted Boylesports to cut his Golden Jubilee Stakes odds to 12-1 from 20-1.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering