Chris McGrath: Follow Acrostic to banish inglorious memory of Epsom

Inside Track

No, Fame And Glory didn't win the Derby, did he? Funny you should mention that. I noticed it too. Hey, far out. After an infamous, inglorious Epsom, some of us badly need a weekend as innocuous as this one. The glazed expression, after all, is seldom ideal for perusal of the formbook, with its dense print. And somehow, by Tuesday, we are supposed to restore morale and confidence – never mind reserves of credit – for five afternoons of white-knuckle betting at Royal Ascot.

True, Fame And Glory was only beaten by one colt, who happened to be the first 2,000 Guineas winner in two decades competent to add the Derby itself. Gracelessly, it remains possible to wonder if things might have turned out differently had the Ballydoyle pacemakers not been ridden as though escorting a hearse. The chances are that Sea The Stars would have won anyway, but nobody managed even to prod the underbelly of his stamina. At the very least, he should have been obliged to pass Fame And Glory to get to the front.

By all accounts Aidan O'Brien was lost for words after the race, and he was not alone in that. It must be pretty chastening to saddle the second, third, fourth and fifth in the Derby, of course, and still more so if they crossed the line more or less together. If you leave Sea the Stars out of the equation for the moment – and he may well run elsewhere anyway – it would be no surprise whatsoever to see Fame And Glory emerge some lengths the best of the Ballydoyle colts in the Irish Derby at the end of the month.

Clearly the misapprehension that he would do something similar at Epsom was shared by others with superior resources, and possibly superior information, too. In such a deep, public market, it takes unusual conviction for a horse to crash from 4-1 to 9-4 in the minutes before the Derby.

All in all, it was a pretty chastening day for Ballydoyle. O'Brien was also author of an unhappy public relations episode when failing to get his six runners into the parade ring on time. As for the deployment of those horses, once they got onto the track, anyone who accuses the stable of getting its race strategy wrong can dismount that high horse pretty sharpish next time there are mutterings about "team tactics". You cannot have it both ways.

Anyway, there's no point in crying over sour grapes. Sea The Stars was the worthiest of winners – a placid, masculine creature, blessed with terrific flair – in the hands of two modern masters. John Oxx, his trainer, would talk to the Aga Khan in precisely the same fashion as he would to a stable lad, while Michael Kinane rides as cool and hard as marble.

O'Brien, meanwhile, has had little opportunity to dwell on what happened, as Ascot is scarcely less of a priority for his patrons, when it comes to establishing the reputation of future stallions. Last year O'Brien won them no fewer than six races at the meeting, including four Group Ones.

Five of them, however, were older horses and the stable seems to have a sudden deficiency in this department, most of the eggs being in one venerable, rather fragile basket. Yeats will be back on Wednesday, seeking an unprecedented fourth success in the Gold Cup, but he showed an alarming lack of gusto on his return in the spring.

The timbre of the week could be radically altered by success for Yeats. As things stand, however, it must be acknowledged that few of the championship races have a vintage aspect. Some of the fields will lack both quantity and quality.

Perhaps the most ardent crowd of the week, indeed, will assemble in Wales, just a couple of hours after the Gold Cup. The first meeting staged at Ffos Las could hardly have found a more discreet place in the calendar, but it is already sold out and the races look set to be oversubscribed by trainers from Wales, England and Ireland. The signs are very promising after the dismal failure of Great Leighs, so soon interred as racing's own, suppurating parable of the great credit fantasy.

For those of you who did not lurch out of Epsom, dazed and smarting, there is ample opportunity to sample the feeling during a competitive afternoon of televised racing. The Reg Griffin Trophy is the highlight of the charity card at York, and Definightly (3.10) looks back on a fair mark after struggling to get home over an extra furlong in bad ground last time. Acrostic (nap 2.35) meanwhile caught the eye when short of room on his comeback the other day, and retains the right to further progress this season.

His trainer, Luca Cumani, must have been aghast to see Forte dei Marmi (1.50) raised 8lbs for a short-head success at Goodwood last time, but he did have loads in hand after meeting traffic and can follow up down at Sandown. Brave Echo (2.20) is undoubtedly well handicapped, while Fault (3.25) could prove good value as another improver for his excellent trainer, Stef Liddiard.

Those needing a little longer to recuperate from Epsom, however, will notice that several of the big races next week already have very dominant favourites.

In other words, everything is in place for some death-or-glory stuff. And, with none at Epsom, a little bit of glory seems overdue. Come on, Scenic Blast!

Fantasia faces tough Prix de Diane test

Jean-Claude Rouget's stable, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, has already produced four individual Group One winners this season, and tomorrow one of them goes to Chantilly as hot favourite for the Prix de Diane.

Stacelita preserved her unbeaten record when cruising home in the Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp last time, but that was an elite field only in name and Rouget's other runner, Tamazirte, had certainly rubbed shoulders with better rivals a week previously, when second in Classic company over a mile at the same track. Tamazirte must prove her stamina here, however, and Fantasia, a rather disappointing favourite when third that day, has much stronger staying power.

Her owner, George Strawbridge, is due some compensation for his dispiriting fortunes with Rainbow View. Perfectly understandably, that filly was afforded priority in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, and then again, perhaps not quite so cogently, in the Oaks. Admittedly Fantasia's sensational performance at Newmarket in the spring has been placed in perspective by the modest achievements of her rivals since, but she retains more physical scope than Rainbow View and could yet go a long way during the coming months.

And while she may be the only overseas runner, she is actually rather closer to home than the favourite.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Acrostic (2.35 York)

NB: Brave Echo (2.20 Sandown)

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

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...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015