Dante pair Coordinated and Workforce wait to fill the void if Blanco defects
The day began with one three-year-old colt coasting past the Epsom winning post, in the drizzle, upsides a stablemate. And it ended up the road at Sandown with another one, flat out to win a photo in the last rays of a golden evening. You can guarantee that Coordinated Cut will not be on the bridle when he returns to Epsom tomorrow week for the Investec Derby; and likewise that Fallen Idol will some day prove equal to far more exacting challenges than the one he so nearly failed last night.
Coordinated Cut was the sole Derby contender to sample Tattenham Corner during what was billed, less accurately than in some years, as Breakfast With The Stars. Even his trainer and intended jockey failed to show up, their helicopter being grounded in Newmarket, but this promotional ritual none the less managed to stimulate the appetite for a race full of intrigue.
The first four in the Derby betting are all stabled at Ballydoyle. For some reason Aidan O'Brien and his employers have got it into their heads that one of these colts – either Jan Vermeer or, most likely, Cape Blanco – should instead run in the Prix du Jockey-Club, 24 hours after the Derby. This departure from their usual practice seems to makes very little sense, not least to those who will welcome it most. Certainly, connections of the two colts who finished behind Cape Blanco in the Dante Stakes will be thrilled should he be diverted to Chantilly. And the case being made for both raises the outlandish possibility that they could fight out the finish of the Derby, while the colt who beat them at York is picking at hay in his stall back in Co Tipperary.
Workforce was confirmed on target by Sir Michael Stoute after passing his final audition in a gallop round Lingfield on Wednesday. "He is a bit short of experience," Stoute said. "The initial plan was to give him two races before the Derby, but he just didn't come to himself in the spring. But I like the way he's gone forward since the Dante. It pulled him together quite a bit."
Michael Bell, meanwhile, proposes several reasons for Coordinated Cut to leave his York form behind. For one thing, he has long felt that Coordinated Cut would relish the extra distance at Epsom, but he also believes that an attempt to exploit his stamina in the Dante backfired. Bell also suspects the colt will demonstrate that he was short of peak fitness at York.
O'Brien, of course, could easily be vindicated in his faith in St Nicholas Abbey. Or perhaps Cape Blanco's speedy maternal pedigree is simply considered too porous, in stamina terms. But O'Brien left no doubt as to the stakes when John Magnier and his partners in Coolmore Stud make their decision. "The whole breed is controlled by the Derby," O'Brien said. "All these horses are bred, fed, reared and trained to run in the race. It's very hard on a horse, and on all his ancestors, to say: 'You're not going to run in the Derby.' It's all about that piece of timber at Epsom."
Kieren Fallon hopes to get a call from his former employers, perhaps even for Jan Vermeer, so impressive at the Curragh on Sunday. Mark Tompkins certainly had "a hell of a job trying to get hold of him" yesterday after finding himself without a jockey for the Chester Vase winner, Ted Spread. Deciding that he could not wait, Tompkins will instead replace Darryll Holland, who fractured a collarbone at Beverley on Wednesday, with Michael Hills.
As for Fallen Idol, his was perhaps the most auspicious performance on the Blue Square card at Sandown, excelling to collar The Rectifier in the Heron Stakes after being left with plenty to do. John Gosden, Fallen Idol's trainer, is in no rush with the unbeaten colt, planning a Group Three race in France next. "William [Buick] said the horse got his head wedged in the gate as it opened, and got left," he explained. "They were only going an ordinary swinging canter, so we're impressed that he could get up like that. He's still not the finished article, mentally he has a lot to learn, and he will come on a bundle for today."
Earlier Dinkum Diamond volunteered himself as one of the quickest juveniles in Britain with a ready success in the National Stakes. Henry Candy will now train him for the Norfolk Stakes at Ascot next month. As an adept trainer of sprinters, Candy was not entertaining an angel unawares. "I worked him with some reasonable older sprinters when he came to me, and he thought they were rubbish!" he said. "He's very small, but he's all heart, and a natural sprinter."
The Henry II Stakes proved a masterclass from Richard Hills on Akmal. As ever, granted the lead, he loosened the early pace and then gradually tightened it round the necks of his pursuers. Akmal retained more than enough petrol to stem the finish of Saptapadi, who ran a stormer on only his fifth start but could make no further inroads late on after pulling hard. Darley Sun, making his Godolphin debut, kept on steadily for third. Having disappointed previously this term, Akmal is now on course for the Gold Cup at Ascot. "He's a big, heavy, idle horse and it took a couple of runs back to find his form," John Dunlop said.
Stotsfold also returned to form with a late surge in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. Third in the Arlington Million last year, he will now be sent back on his travels by Walter Swinburn, who emphasised that quick ground is critical to his stable star. Glass Harmonium eventually managed third after missing the break and meeting traffic, looking ready for a mile and a half.
Harry Findlay, co-owner of Denman, has been charged by the British Horseracing Authority with laying one of his own horses. The colourful gambler backed Gullible Gordon for two races, in 2008 and 2009, before trading back a portion of his win stakes. Though exasperated by the investigation, he has acknowledged that "a slap on a wrist" might result from strict interpretation of the rules.
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