There is always a risk in giving a horse a name that may be hard to live up to. But if Genius Beast is not yet the athletic equivalent of an Einstein, he is certainly no dunce and yesterday came through his latest test with full marks as clear-cut winner of Sandown's Classic trial. And his victory brought some much-needed cheer to the Godolphin team, which had its much-fancied 1,000 Guineas candidate White Moonstone sidelined by injury over the weekend, only a few days after a similar mishap to 2,000 Guineas and Derby hope Dubai Prince.
Whether or not Genius Beast can help fill the Epsom void will be clearer after his next assignment, possibly in the Dante Stakes at York. But the son of Kingmambo, whose record last year before taking his maiden from three subsequent winners included a third place to Frankel when the pair made their debuts, is clearly progressive.
Despite doubts about conditions at the sun-baked track yesterday – much faster than any he had encountered before – he travelled easily through the 10-furlong contest under Ahmed Ajtebi before forging smoothly two and a quarter lengths away from the race-fit Richard Hannon stablemates Measuring Time and Auld Burns.
"We decided to run only at the last minute," said trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, "as we thought perhaps he would not like the ground. But we decided that he should try it at least once. We've always liked him and he is a very nice sort of horse. We'll give him one more run to see if he's a Derby horse."
The bookmakers think not at this stage; 40-1 is still on offer, with the stable's first-string towards the top of the market at around 10-1. But Genius Beast need bow to few in the suitability of his pedigree; he is the first foal from Irish Oaks heroine Shawanda.
Nor need the Henry Cecil-trained filly Arizona Jewel, who stylishly announced her arrival as an Oaks prospect in the following maiden. She is yet another off Khalid Abdullah's impressive bloodstock production line, being a Dansili half-sister to five winners including Powercourt and Kind, who is Frankel's dam.
With the 2,000 Guineas, for which Frankel is likely to start the hottest favourite since Nijinsky won at 2-7 in 1970, just five days away the focus is now firmly on the Flat. But the jumpers are still jumping, notably at Fairyhouse today, where the 140th Irish Grand National overshadows bank holiday fare here more notable for quantity than quality.
It was a matter of some relief from the sport's professionals that Saturday's marathon Bet365 Chase at Sandown was completed in enervating conditions without equine death or distress and it is to be hoped that all can similarly breathe easy at the Co Meath track after today's contest over the same demanding trip. Oddly, those who have backed the favourite Beautiful Sound will not know until this morning whether their fancy will get a run; the 5-1 has missed the cut and must rely on withdrawals above him.
The prize is one which the locals defend with understandable zeal; today's race is worth some £130,000 to the winner. Just eight raiders have succeeded but of the three who travel from Britain, the upwardly mobile youngster Quantitativeeasing catches the eye and victory would bring some comfort to Tony McCoy.
The 16-times champion not only missed yesterday's start of the new domestic jump season because of duties in Ireland but had salt rubbed in when he came down two out while in the lead on favourite Noble Prince in the Grade One Powers Gold Cup, handing victory to Realt Dubh.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Aquarian Spirit (4.20 Redcar)
Yet to win a handicap in 12 attempts but there is nothing wrong with his attitude and has optimum ground and distance back down on a feasible mark.
Sand Owl (4.15 Yarmouth)
Off the mark in good style last month, a performance whose merit was franked yesterday by a win, and has physical scope for further progress.
One to watch
Libritish (M Botti), winner of maiden at Wolverhampton in January, could prove well-treated when she starts handicaps.
Where the money's going
Fury, unbeaten in two juvenile outings, was the best-backed of 2,000 Guineas outsiders yesterday, now 14-1 from 20-1 with Paddy Power.Reuse content