Irish talent looms over home hopes

Today's Dante Stakes offers last chance for British colts to make Derby case

With all due respect to Sariska, who staked a credible Epsom claim of her own here yesterday, still more momentous matters are likely to be resolved on the Knavesmire this afternoon. For the Totesport Dante Stakes is not only a final crossroads on the road to the Derby, but a last chance for those few British colts still upon it to rid themselves of an unhappily vagrant air.

This is a very strong field, much the best of the rehearsals staged since Sea The Stars laid down his marker in the 2,000 Guineas. Yet it will take a really authoritative performance for any colt to intrude upon what is already shaping as a vintage showdown between the Irish pair, Sea The Stars and Fame And Glory. In other words, half-hearted testimony in this trial will mean that you can forget any thoughts of the winner of the first Investec Derby being trained on home soil. The one British colt to have retained a place near the top of the market is Crowded House, who was one of the winter favourites for the Guineas before Brian Meehan decided that Epsom should be his priority. He was last seen winning the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last autumn, the undeniable style of his performance seeming to gain substance from a very good time. But the strict form does not look particularly exciting, his principal rival, Masterofthehorse, having run no sort of race. And while Meehan is adamant that Crowded House, as a son of Rainbow Quest, will prove best over middle distances, there is plenty of American speed in the colt's maternal pedigree. He did show a lot of pace last year, and the odds make very little allowance for that.

The stakes are extremely high, too, for Kite Wood, after his expensive transfer to Godolphin. The stable seems to have found a bit of form in the past few days, even managing to win an Italian Derby, but Frankie Dettori yesterday emphasised that Kite Wood would improve for the run. Saeed bin Suroor, his new trainer, added that the colt has been working like a stayer, so it seems as though he might already be viewed as a long-term project.

Nehaam and Redwood represent the two most prolific British stables of the season to date, and both promised more to come when following up juvenile maiden wins at the Craven meeting. But there is an ominous possibility that the two Ballydoyle raiders will go sufficiently well to fortify confidence in their stablemate, Fame And Glory.

After that promising reappearance in France, Black Bear Island would himself seem a perfectly eligible candidate, so it seems significant that the stable jockey, Johnny Murtagh, has instead favoured Freemantle (2.40). For a colt with this kind of pedigree to win a maiden over seven furlongs by 10 lengths, as he did at Tipperary last autumn, is the sort of thing that first drew attention to his sire, Galileo. Aidan O'Brien won three Classic trials on these shores last week, prior to Fame And Glory's brilliant performance at Leopardstown, and his horses seem to be moving smoothly up the gears now.

At least Crowded House's jockey, Jamie Spencer, will be in high spirits after Sariska's success in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes. Though possibly better suited by easier ground, this filly ran out a decisive winner from Star Ruby, gradually working her way past Star Ruby from two furlongs out and finishing the best part of four lengths clear, despite idling somewhat in front. It was a similar distance back to Enticement, who came off the bridle as soon as a leisurely pace picked up and was apparently unsuited by the conditions.

Having hinted at unusual talent when fourth in the Fred Darling Stakes on her reappearance, flying home over just seven furlongs, Sariska certainly appreciated the longer distance here and is bred to cope serenely with another 350 yards or so in the Investec Oaks. In contrast with the intimidating standard already set for the Dante field, there seem to be precious few top-class fillies heading to Epsom and odds of 4-1 against Sariska are by no means ungenerous.

Michael Bell, her trainer, had prudently resisted any temptation to run Sariska in the 1,000 Guineas. "It was a reasonably easy call," he said. "We all thought she might find things happening too quickly over a mile. The dam's family is all stamina, and she took a lot of pulling up out there today. She was fast asleep in the Fred Darling, but today was far more streetwise. She has grown up a lot for that experience and knows her job now."

So, too, does Bell, having won the Derby with Motivator after bringing him here for the Dante four years ago. "We have been to Epsom before with a good colt," he said. "And we are going there now with a good filly, for the first time one with a realistic chance of winning."

Will anyone in Britain be able to say the same about the Derby tonight?

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before