Cecil's Ascot aim is celebration with Twice Over

As a rule, the groom might expect to wear top hat and tails for his wedding day, rather than his honeymoon. But no tropical paradise would tempt Henry Cecil away from Royal Ascot next week, and his fiancée, Jane McKeown, was never under any illusions about their destination once the nuptials were fixed for tomorrow.

In the circumstances, only those trying to beat bank rates with the odds-on favourite, Henrythenavigator, would begrudge success for Twice Over in the St James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday. It is six years since Cecil's 70th success there confirmed him as the outstanding Royal Ascot trainer of modern times. In the meantime, his personal and professional fortunes have disclosed the substance sustaining all those familiar, exquisite flourishes. He was written off barely two years ago, but none can question his resurgence as a trainer – and now he hopes that he might achieve similar renewal against the attrition of cancer. In stormy waters, Henry has proved the truest of navigators.

Warren Place was too hectic with preparations for Cecil to supervise his runners here yesterday, but the stable approaches Ascot in fine fettle. Sevenna's success under Ted Durcan in the opener was its 21st of the season, maintaining a strike-rate of one in four.

Twice Over will be dropping back to a mile after meeting his first defeat in the Dante Stakes at York. Cecil's dismayed reaction that day was that the colt had failed for stamina, despite having won over 10 furlongs as a juvenile. Having persuaded his owner, Khaled Abdulla, to sit out the 2,000 Guineas in favour of a Derby preparation, he must have been relieved, if anything, when the colt returned a sickly blood count a few days later.

"Mr Cecil wasn't 100 per cent happy with Twice Over after York," Durcan confirmed. "He was beaten so far out there that you could hardly say it was simply a case of him not getting the trip. We all know that the favourite is going to be a tough nut to crack, and there are other horses to respect in the race like Falco, but at least our horse is back bouncing now. I sat on him on Saturday morning, and he seems in excellent order. I just wouldn't want it too firm for him, but we should be all right with a drop of rain about."

Durcan was wearing the same silks as when Cecil's quest for a fifth Derby foundered at Epsom last Saturday, Kandahar Run fading in the straight to finish ninth. "He blatantly didn't stay," the jockey said. "It was always in the back of our minds that he might not get home, but the way he had switched off when he won at Newmarket entitled us to hope. Unfortunately the pacemaker and the 1,000-1 shot rushed up early and lit me up a bit, which didn't help. But the Derby can take a lot out of horses and the main thing is that Mr Cecil has been really happy with him since. There should be plenty more from him later in the season."

Another veteran Newmarket trainer whose touch remains as sure as ever is Michael Jarvis, who saddled his first juvenile winner of the season in Sri Putra and then followed up with the impressive Ghaidaa in the second division of Sevenna's maiden.

Sri Putra could go for the Weatherbys Superlative Stakes at the Newmarket July Meeting, while Ghaidaa could yet be given the chance to match the Classic achievements of her dam and half-sister, Midway Lady and Eswarah, who both won the Oaks. "She is coming on in leaps and bounds," Jarvis said. "She is not in the Irish Oaks, but could be put in if the boss [Sheikh Hamdan] wanted it."

The Curragh is also a possibility for Rosa Grace, who quickened well to get out of traffic in the day's feature race, the Lord Weinstock Memorial Stakes. That success meant her trainer, Rae Guest, had won with his last four runners and he maintained the sequence with Si Belle at Yarmouth. Even this could be interpreted as a positive augur for Cecil, as Guest is McKeown's brother and looking forward to toasting their happiness tomorrow.

As for Rosa Grace, Guest has always entertained high hopes. "She needed her first run back," he said. "And the only thing we were worried about today was the rain getting into the ground, because she's a lovely mover. We don't pay a fortune for them, and we don't get sent the best. But we seem to find one every year."

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

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Advisor - (HR, L&D) - Rugby

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and well established busi...

Recruitment Genius: Product Owner - Business Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Product Owner/Business Analyst is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Quality Technician

£28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea