Those looking for Classic clues will probably be better served in Paris today and Newmarket and Newbury during the next seven days than at Kempton yesterday. But, credit where it’s due, Pure Poetry was the only one of the nine runners in the Easter Stakes deemed worthy of an entry in the 2,000 Guineas, and duly outshone his rivals. And though the colt’s margin of victory was hardly a parade – he scored by just a head after a troubled passage – it was enough to give his trainer Richard Hannon a remarkable seventh success in the mile contest.
Now that the son of Tagula has proved he has stamina enough for the Guineas distance, he may be asked to put his class on the line as soon as Thursday, in a much better trial, the Craven Stakes. “He very much needed|the run,” said Hannon. “We’ll see how he comes out of the race, but Newmarket is very much a possibility.”
Going to the final bend, his jockey, Richard Hughes had to brake hard to prevent his free-going mount, running|for the first time since September and for the first time on an artificial surface, colliding with the eventual runner-up, Shampagne. But once balance was restored Pure Poetry responded with a will and scythed past the quintet scrapping for the lead a furlong out to win narrowly but decisively. “He quickened up well,” said Hughes, “and probably got a bit tired, but he definitely needs this trip.”
Pure Poetry made little impression on the bookmakers – one firm judged his chances at 100-1 – but Hannon already has three Guineas on his CV and owner Julie Wood is up for a tilt at the bigger boys. “We’ll be one of the rank outsiders,” she said, “but you never know.” The last Easter Stakes winner to make an impact in the Rowley Mile showpiece was Rebel Rebel, who|was a 100-1 shot when beating all bar Footstepsinthesand in 2005.
Aidan O’Brien’s two prime Guineas candidates, favourite Mastercraftsman and Rip Van Winkle, will not appear until the Classic but today at Longchamp two of their stablemates, Westphalia and Set Sail, under consideration for the Classic, will test the waters in the Prix Fontainebleau, used as a launch in the past for smart Ballydoyle inmates Landseer and Aussie Rules.
Of even more interest may be the three-year-old debut of one of the Co Tipperary empire’s most credible Derby contenders, Black Bear Island. The colt, a full-brother to the 2002 Derby hero High Chaparral, has not raced since winning his maiden in August by four lengths, but produced an eyecatching performance when leading his group home in a racecourse gallop at the Curragh last month and is jostling for Blue Riband second favouritism.
Last night in America, though, another Derby dream floundered. The John Gosden-trained Mafaaz, on trial for the Kentucky version, could beat only three in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. The colt faded in the straight behind General Quarters.