Masta Plasta bounced back to form to book his place in the Derby warm-up act at Epsom, the dash down the fastest five furlongs in Europe, by taking the Scottish Sprint Cup. The £50,000 race, relocated to York from Musselburgh, was the speedy five-year-old's first success since he won Royal Ascot's Norfolk Stakes when a juvenile and when that race was also transferred to York.
Since then, he has made the transfer from trainer Howard Johnson to Dandy Nicholls, but the modus operandi remained the same. Apprentice Adele Rothery led from the off, winning with a length to spare. "I told her to blast it out," said Nicholls. "Howard Johnson and Robert Winston are not stupid, and that is how they won the Norfolk. If sprinters lose their confidence it sometimes sweetens them up having a girl on them."
Two other winners on a day more notable for quantity than quality are bound for Royal Ascot, which starts two weeks on Tuesday. Luca Cumani's Bankable, who took the On The House Stakes at Goodwood by nearly four lengths, staked a considerable claim to the Royal Hunt Cup and Major Cadeaux, who defied a penalty and slipping saddle at Haydock, has the Golden Jubilee Stakes as his target.
Eighteen fillies remain in Friday's Oaks after yesterday's penultimate confirmation stage, including the favourite, Lush Lashes. The Jim Bolger-trained Musidora Stakes winner is one of 11 potential Irish raiders in the Epsom race; the next three in the betting are Chinese White (Dermot Weld), Katiyra (John Oxx) and Sail, one of seven from Ballydoyle. The home defence is led by Cape Amber, from Peter Chapple-Hyam's yard, Clowance (Roger Charlton) and Michita (John Gosden).
Frankie Dettori has a plum ride on Natagora in today's Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly. It will be the first try at more than a mile for the Pascal Bary-trained 1,000 Guineas heroine.
"She has the class to do it," said Dettori, "as she is a Classic winner already. But she faces a big challenge as a filly against colts." Natagora is trying to become the first of her sex since 1900 to take the contest that used to be the French equivalent of the Derby until its reduction to an extended 10 furlongs.
The grey's regular partner, Christophe Lemaire, has been claimed for High Rock (Jean-Claude Rouget), who headsthe market.