For a horse without direction, Scintillo certainly appears to have located the winning post. Victory in the Winter Derby at Lingfield yesterday took the chestnut four-year-old's tally to two wins, and earning of £86,000, in two days.
He had scored easily at Kempton on Wednesday night, his first victory since his juvenile days, which helped secure yesterday's prize, according to his assistant trainer, Richard Hannon Jnr. "He'd rather lost his way," he said, "and winning again gave him confidence in himself."
Scintillo needed every ounce of self-belief, the skill of his rider, Richard Hughes, and a bit of luck to hold the favourite, Premio Loco, by a nose, the minimum margin. From a high draw, Hughes was soon tracking Kandidate and Mahadee in the leading group. "There was no point in messing about and getting stuck behind runners," said the Irishman. "He does get a bit lit up but I was able to settle him just behind the leaders, running sweetly for me. The split came just at the right time and it was lucky I'd kicked when I did."
If Hughes and Scintillo had the run of the race, circumstances conspired against George Baker and Premio Loco, who had to circle the field into the straight. "If we'd come round the rails," said Chris Wall, the trainer, "we'd have got stuck behind a wall of horses, so we had to come wide, and it may just have made the difference."
Before this week, Scintillo's last success had been at the highest level as a two-year-old in Italy. "He struggled a bit all last year," added Hannon, "but he's very sound and easy, and very versatile as regards distance and surface. We've got the Ormonde Stakes at Chester pencilled in."
Yesterday's Group Three, the Surrey track's richest race with a £56,770 first prize, was a Derby in name only, but a real Classic was on the radar here after Clive Brittain produced a live outsider for the 1,000 Guineas in the tall shape of Nashmiah, a sparkling winner of the Spring Cup.
No sooner did the 5-2 favourite, Elnawin, burst to the front going to the last of the seven furlongs than Nashmiah shot past to such effect that her impetus took her nearly three lengths clear at the line. "She felt impressive, the way she picked up," said her jockey, Jamie Spencer, "and she'll get a mile standing on her head." The daughter of Elusive City, introduced into the Guineas betting at 50-1, ran third in a Newmarket Group Three contest on her final outing last year. "All my fillies have been running well this year," said Brittain, "but she's the head girl."
Though an attractive, scopey individual, Nashmiah was one of the most backward of yesterday's field. There will be physical improvement to come but the mental obstacles have already been overcome, thanks to her lass, Ivana Slachtova. "She's always been a nervous filly," added Brittain, "and last year things didn't quite work out in her head, but Ivana has done well with her all winter and she's now relaxed and happy about life."
Elnawin, Scintillo's stablemate, had solid juvenile form last term and now heads to the Greenham Stakes next month before a decision is made about his 2,000 Guineas participation.