Seville sets out his Classic stall for investors in the long term
Monday 25 October 2010
Identifying the best wager to become available on the Turf over recent days is very much a matter of disposition. To the more jaundiced eye, for instance, the bet of the season was also the most flagrant one – made, when Betfair shares were floated on the Stock Exchange on Friday, by fund managers working under the British Horseracing Authority chairman. To the sort of romantics who backed the evergreen Monet's Garden at Aintree on Saturday, no doubt, a more edifying investment now would be Cue Card, who made a dynamic hurdling debut at the same track yesterday and is now generally 6-1 favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. To patriots, in turn, maybe confirmation that Workforce will contest the Breeders' Cup Turf makes 13-8 too good to resist. To those simply attempting a clinical judgement of value, however, the most fertile prospect to emerge from the weekend is a horse who instead appeared to have his limitations exposed.
Seville could not quite get past Casamento in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday, but this was none the less a really auspicious effort for a colt barely a month into his career. Unlike the winner, there cannot be the faintest doubt that Seville will relish a mile and a half next season, and Investec Derby odds of 14-1 look tempting.
Another son of the inevitable Galileo, Seville is out of a dual Group winner over a mile and a half, by Silver Hawk. He will certainly resume in a Derby trial next spring, and both the style and substance of this performance qualify him as a far more obvious Epsom type than Frankel, already a warm favourite despite his trainer Henry Cecil's candid misgivings about his stamina.
Aidan O'Brien, Seville's trainer, will be tracing his every canter back from June 4, 2011. Much the same is true, admittedly, of another colt in his care, Roderic O'Connor having graduated from a maiden to chase home Frankel in the Dewhurst Stakes nine days ago. But a combined Derby price of 7-1 against both Ballydoyle colts is infinitely more attractive than 5-1 against one unlikely even to be aimed at the race.
O'Brien has endured a series of near misses since saddling Galileo and High Chaparral to win the Derby, in 2001 and 2002 respectively, but you would far sooner back a horse prepared at Ballydoyle than one spending the winter in Dubai. The stable's Classic record in recent years means that the transfer of Casamento to Godolphin disqualifies him from ante-post consideration for the 2,000 Guineas, at any rate, and perhaps the Derby, as well. Godolphin did produce an eligible Derby colt this year, in Rewilding, but he had been stabled until May with André Fabre in France.
Sheikh Mohammed can only pin his hopes on the precedent set by Casamento's sire, Shamardal, who not only wintered in Dubai but ran in the UAE Derby – so poorly, in the event, that a crack at the Kentucky Derby was abandoned and he instead went back to Europe to win three Group One prizes before the end of June. Regardless, Mick Halford has certainly set Casamento's new handlers an exacting standard in the way he has seized his first opportunity for the sheikh. Hats off to whichever of the sheikh's advisers volunteered Halford as a worthwhile gamble with a relatively cheap animal like this.
It is always gratifying when a trainer who has proved himself with lesser animals makes a deserved break into the big time. To an extent, that is what has happened for Colin Tizzard with the advent of Cue Card. Dazzling in the Champion Bumper last season, Cue Card yesterday started 1-2 to outclass his rivals in a novice hurdle over two and a half miles. They could not go anything like fast enough for his tastes, and he pulled quite fiercely under restraint, but retained ample reserves to coast 13 lengths clear from three out under Tizzard's son, Joe. They will face tougher opposition at Cheltenham next month, but it was a heartening start for the Dorset family team. "He's exciting," Tizzard Snr said. "But there's a lot of responsibility that goes with it."
Few seem likely to feel as warmly disposed to Paul Roy, after discovering that a company co-founded and chaired by the BHA chairman invested heavily in Betfair at the first opportunity. New Smith is thought to have secured £5m worth of shares, after applying for £40m. Roy claims no conflict of interest, even though the BHA is constantly demanding its pound of flesh from Betfair.
One way or another, and however independently, analysts in his service appear to have concluded that there is little danger of racing's leadership successfully eroding the value of their investment. As Roy himself observes, Betfair shares immediately proved a smart bet. But exactly the same professional praise might well be offered, say, to City investors who happen to support a commercial bid for the Tote. And if the BHA's leaders are considered way off the pace in tackling the Betfair challenge, then you can only hope that they are decisively engaged in securing the Tote for racing. It is through the Tote, after all, that the sport might some day fight off all comers – bookmakers and exchanges alike. If Roy wants to be remembered with any gratitude in racing, then you trust that all his energies and expertise will be channelled in pursuit of that hope.
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Zain Shamardal (2.40 Kempton)
Struggled with heavy ground last time, but had previously shown why he is well regarded, managing to keep tabs on two previous winners first time out.
* Next best
Getcarter (3.40 Kempton)
Unexposed over 8f but two previous attempts over course and distance promised that the trip may help him exploit his drop down the handicap.
* One to watch
Ottoman Empire (D R Lanigan) is making up for lost time, having won on his return from a long absence, then shaping well against a very classy rival at Newmarket, not quite lasting home over 12f.
* Where the money's going
Now confirmed as an intended runner, Workforce is 6-4 from 7-4 for the Breeders' Cup Turf with both Paddy Power and William Hill.
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