It has taken a while, but Sheikh Mohammed seems to be on to something here. Just two days after Casamento vindicated his decision to try his luck with Michael Halford, winning the Racing Post Trophy, another relatively cheap son of Shamardal, likewise stabled with an Irish trainer new to the sheikh's roster, produced such an impressive performance at Leopardstown yesterday that he is now quoted as short as 8-1 for the Investec Derby with Ladbrokes.
Dubai Prince, trained by Dermot Weld, stormed home by three and a half lengths in a Group Three race. It remains to be seen whether Weld, like Halford, will be obliged to surrender the colt to Godolphin this winter. Significantly, the symmetry with Casamento extends to the fact that he, too, has arguably done as much to promote the Epsom credentials of Seville. That colt, a close second to Casamento at Doncaster on Saturday, had previously run Dubai Prince to a length when both made their debut over a mile at Gowran Park last month.
Though Dubai Prince coped dynamically yesterday with the drop to seven furlongs, Weld believes he will stay middle distances. "He will run exceptionally well over one mile next year, but his real potential will come over longer distances," he said. "Seven furlongs is really too short for him. He is by an outstanding stallion and his dam won over a mile and five furlongs. He is very high-class, a joy to train."
The frisson of excitement prompted by news that Workforce will contest the Breeders' Cup Turf was by no means universally shared. Connections of Gitano Hernando have decided the participation of Workforce fatally skews the ratio of risk and reward at Churchill Downs on Saturday week.
Marco Botti, Gitano Hernando's trainer, explained: "He's not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, and it would cost a lot of money to supplement him. He is nominated to the Japan Cup, and Hong Kong, but my feeling is that he will go straight to Dubai. He might well go out earlier this time, as well, and have a prep race first."
The way he rallied when fourth in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket, after being caught out by a steady gallop, persuades Botti that new avenues beckon Gitano Hernando in the future, he has shown himself just as effective on turf. "I have no doubt he will get a mile and a half," Botti said. "He would have done better with a stronger pace and became a little unbalanced as they quickened into the Dip, but stayed on really well afterwards."
Richard Hughes is stoking the dying embers of his challenge for the jockeys' title. A treble at Leicester yesterday, while Paul Hanagan served a day's suspension, reduced the margin between them to eight – though Hughes will miss the final day of the campaign.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Spahi (5.20 Catterick) Well beaten fourth on return from a break here the other day, but travelled very well before fading and down 3lb.
Lady Bluesky (3.20 Catterick) Decent mare in bumpers and has begun to make the most of a modest rating under this code, always in control under an aggressive ride over course and distance last time.
One to watch
Sutton Veny (J R Gask) Won three times at Kempton last winter and is coming nicely back to the boil judged on her effort there the other day, only run down by one closing from off the pace.