Ruler asserts Epsom prerogative


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The Independent Online

The least they deserved, huddled against the vile rain and wind, was a proper Epsom colt – and that is exactly what the shivering Ladies' Day crowd saw, by name and nature, in Ruler Of The World. Mind you, his runaway success in the MBNA Chester Vase represented only a first increment in Ballydoyle's resistance to Dawn Approach. The Investec Derby favourite is trained for Sheikh Mohammed by Jim Bolger, once mentor to Aidan O'Brien. With the Ballydoyle trainer still to try out various candidates at Lingfield, Leopardstown and York, the likely loss of Kingsbarns – still struggling to get over his setback – is not going to prevent an intriguing Derby stand-off between the sheikh and his traditional adversaries at Coolmore Stud.

For the sheikh, this is by no means the only problem that refuses to go away. Today he endured yet another embarrassing twist in the steroids scandal that has more or less petrified his elite Godolphin stable, following the disgrace of Mahmood al-Zarooni. An announcement on the Godolphin website in the morning asserted that the operation's other trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, would take temporary custody of Zarooni's stable – down the road from his own Newmarket premises – pending appointment of a new trainer. But that simply prompted a public reminder from the British Horseracing Authority that the yard would not be relicensed "until the test results are known for all the Godolphin horses in Newmarket". The sheikh himself had committed Godolphin to locking away Zarooni's former charges, until all had tested "clean", but BHA officials have since extended the testing process "for the sake of completeness" to Bin Suroor's string.

However artificial the succour provided by his decision to run Dawn Approach in Godolphin silks, after Bolger sold him a 51 per cent share last summer, at least the sheikh has something to cling on to. But if Ruler Of The World strikes him as immodestly named, then the Galileo half-brother to Duke Of Marmalade is certainly doing his best to match regal pedigree with performance.

It is still early days, obviously. He arrived here having only made his debut a month previously, impressive in a Curragh maiden, and had just three rivals for a prize once won by Shergar himself. But there was an authentic hallmark of quality to the way he careered six lengths clear of Mister Impatience under Ryan Moore. If the runner-up has his limitations, he had been able to control a moderate pace and it was no mean feat for a thorough stayer to open up so emphatically in this short straight. Paddy Power duly slashed Ruler Of The World to 6-1 from 20-1 for Epsom, though Ladbrokes made a pointed stand by offering 14-1.

With the bewildering contours of Epsom in mind, it was also auspicious to see him cope so well with the dizzy bends of the Roodee, O'Brien having been sufficiently concerned about his inexperience to fit cheekpieces. "He's still a bit green," Moore said. "But once I grabbed hold of him he lengthened really well. Going round here will have done him good, and he'll learn a lot."

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