Rainbow grows into Classic billing
21,000 Guineas favourite adds physical power to go with explosive temerament
Thursday 09 April 2009
Under normal circumstances, a visit to a stable to see a candidate for top honours would involve the horse in question being proudly produced, polished and gleaming, in the manner of a newly designed grand prix car. But where Rainbow View is concerned, it was by necessity the launch without the star. As last year's top juvenile filly, she has already proved she has a Ferrari engine but she is also very much a prancing horse.
"She's a long way the wildest I've ever had," said her trainer John Gosden yesterday. "In terms of difficult temperament, she'd make Naomi Campbell look like a pussycat. She was like it from the moment she arrived here and she hasn't changed from two to three. She's not docile, she doesn't do crowds or waiting around. And she takes some riding; she'll make shapes without warning and for no apparent reason.
"But she is what she is. And there's no point in trying to change her. Do that with her – in effect break her spirit – and you'll take away her athletic competitiveness, her determination and her brilliance."
Rainbow View (right), who won her four races last term by an aggregate of nearly 17 lengths, culminating with the Group One Fillies' Mile at Ascot, will not run before the 1,000 Guineas in 24 days' time. Yesterday, in box No 6 at Clarehaven Stables, a thickly quilted green bodywarmer and long navy leggings kept her bay coat snugly under wraps as only hay melted in her mouth. But she will emerge for public scrutiny at her local track, Newmarket, next week, when a racecourse gallop under her big-race jockey Jimmy Fortune is planned during the Craven meeting.
The daughter of Dynaformer, home-bred by her Pennsylvania-based owner George Strawbridge, is a warm, but lately been a slightly uneasy favourite for next month's Classic. But Gosden reports that, although her mind has not changed, her physique has. "She was small last year," he said, "and for one by her sire, she's on the neat side. But I wouldn't call her small any more; she's medium-sized and she's become quite powerful. There's a lot more in front, behind and underneath the saddle than there was last year. Size isn't everything anyway and I have no concerns about her having trained on."
Gosden's prime concern on 3 May will be getting Rainbow View to the start with her marbles intact. "The preliminaries on a highly charged day like that will be tough for her," he said, "but it's something she'll just have to deal with. She has all this nervous energy and it's up to us to channel it."
Rainbow View's perceived chief rivals are all housed in Newmarket, which has given her trainer the chance to size up the opposition. "She outclassed everything she met last year," he added, "and from what we've seen so far this year she still has her ability. But now the new threads come into the equation."
Two, in particular, have caught Gosden's eye, the Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Serious Attitude, with Rae Guest, and maiden winner Sariska, with Michael Bell. Serious Attitude is Guineas second favourite; third market choice is Fantasia, runner-up in the Fillies' Mile and acquired by Strawbridge during the close season, but in the yard of Gosden's neighbour Luca Cumani.
Gosden may have an audacious transatlantic Classic double to cope with on Guineas weekend. On Saturday night Mafaaz, his candidate for the Kentucky Derby, will have his mettle tested for the first time in the States when he lines up at Keeneland for the Blue Grass Stakes, one of the recognised trials for the Run For the Roses.
By winning the inaugural running of a "win-and-you're-in" contest at Kempton last month, Mafaaz guaranteed his place in the Kentucky Derby field. The innovation has caused some disquiet in US racing circles, but Gosden – who started his career there and is conscious of what the race means to the locals – emphasised yesterday that Sheikh Hamdan's colt will not take up his place unless he proves worthy of it on Saturday.
"It's a big ask for him," he said. "He's travelled 3,500 miles in a cargo plane from East Midlands and hasn't done much since he arrived but walk round a quarantine barn the size of a rabbit hutch. But still, he'll need to run well to warrant going on to Churchill Downs. As far as I'm concerned he won't be running in the Kentucky Derby just for the sake of it."
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