Sariska ready to reward patience

On first day at York, Bell's Classic hope can vindicate decision to aim for Oaks

Unlike the colts, who have already produced two outstanding candidates in Fame And Glory and Sea The Stars, the fillies have so far proved rather diffident about establishing their Epsom credentials. Those who assemble at York this afternoon duly have every chance of laying down a persuasive marker for the Oaks, with the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes bringing together three of the first six in the betting.

These include the Queen's filly, Enticement, who won both her races last autumn while promising better to come with distance and maturity. Even as it stands, her form is pretty respectable. On her second start she got up to beat the subsequent 1,000 Guineas third, Super Sleuth, in a Listed race over the Rowley Mile. Just behind, for what it might be worth, was Midday, who herself testified to what might be built upon such foundations when running away with the Lingfield Oaks Trial last Saturday. Enticement did nothing in a hurry that day, but the step up to an extended 10 furlongs will presumably suit her well.

The same has already proved true of High Heeled, who beat some useful colts when she stepped up to this distance on her reappearance at Newbury. Your Old Pal and Palavicini, both well beaten there, have since shared a photo at Newmarket, but it may well be that they were uncomfortable in the testing conditions at Newbury. With that in mind, not to mention the dubious commitment of one or two others in the field that day, it may be worth taking High Heeled's Newbury form with a pinch of salt.

In theory, it makes her the filly to beat, but there is no escaping a sense that Sariska (2.40) is going to win a big race sooner rather than later. Her connections certainly deserve reward for their restraint after her remarkable reappearance in the Fred Darling Stakes over just seven furlongs. After missing the break and then meeting traffic, she flew home on the bridle to finish fourth.

Some would then have hastened greedily to the Guineas, but she has instead been given time to absorb the lessons of that experience and her pedigree guarantees that she will appreciate the extra distance. There are signs of renewal in the form of her trainer, Michael Bell, leaving only the fast ground as uncharted territory.

The other Group race on the card is the Duke Of York Blue Square Stakes, where Equiano and Tax Free share obvious prospects after their duel at the Craven meeting. But King's Apostle (3.10) remains unexposed at this level and made a very encouraging resumption over the bare five furlongs on 2,000 Guineas day, staying on strongly without the visor he wore when winning at Ascot last September. Clearly his trainer, William Haggas, does not consider it a requisite, for as a Yorkshireman he will see everything else, including the going, distance and maybe even odds of 14-1, as tailor-made.

You can rest assured there will be plenty of northern winners during the next three afternoons and Ventura Cove (4.20) can build profitably on his fine debut at Musselburgh 12 days ago. The winner made experience count there, but this colt has a very speedy pedigree and pulled clear of the rest in a very solid time.

Sadly, the locals remain unrepresented among the Investec Derby candidates who contest the Totesport Dante Stakes here tomorrow – named after the last northern raider to win the Derby, back in 1945.

An authentic Epsom colt will surely emerge from the 10 declarations made yesterday, however, including Crowded House, Kite Wood, Redwood, Nehaam, and two stable-mates of Fame And Glory, in Freemantle and Black Bear Island.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Ventura Cove (4.20 York)

NB: King's Apostle (3.10 York)

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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