Slumber stirs in good time for Epsom party

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid Abdullah, whose Juddmonte breeding operation is the most successful on a global scale of any of the top-end organisations, yesterday rolled out yet another potentially high-class bearer of his famous white, pink and green colours. The handsome colt Slumber emerged from his winter hibernation as a wide-margin winner of the only Derby trial to be held on the idiosyncratic course which hosts the Classic, though it has yet to be decided whether he will join his owner's Epsom party in June.

Slumber, trained by Barry Hills, raced just once last year, when he showed some immature promise in a maiden. Yesterday he outclassed his rivals both as a physical specimen and as an athlete, belying his inexperience as he coped smoothly with the steep descent to Tattenham Corner and then quickening away from his four rivals, headed by the useful handicapper Borug, one of the lesser Godolphin lights.

Abdullah already has the first two in the Derby betting, the 2,000 Guineas favourite Frankel and maiden winner World Domination. Slumber does not hold the Classic entry, and so would need to be supplemented, but many trainers would be delighted to have an animal of his promise as a first-choice striker, never mind one on the bench.

The winning jockey Michael Hills was as impressed as any with Slumber's authoritative performance. "I liked very much the way he quickened as soon as I asked," he said. "I had loads of horse left at the end and another two furlongs won't be a problem for him."

Yesterday's 10-furlong contest is a Derby trial in name only – the only winner in recent memory to have made an impact in the real thing has been Daliapour, who went on to chase home Oath 12 years ago – and more will be known about Slumber's place in the pecking order after his next test, likely to be next month's Chester Vase. "It was nice to see him go by the others as if they were standing," said Charlie Hills, assistant to his father. "He's still only a baby, but is a proper horse for the future."

Slumber is from one of Abdullah's best families – the grand-dam is a sibling of top-class US runner Aptitude – but is a limited edition as far as his sire is concerned. He is one of very few foals by dual Grade One winner Cacique, who has some of the best genes in the studbook as a brother to the leading stallion Dansili, but who proved all but infertile in his second career.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Mauritino (3.40 Wincanton) Thriving now the ground has come in his favour; won in a canter at Exeter four days ago and can complete his hat-trick.

Next best

Joker Choker (4.20 Ludlow) Lightly raced handicap debutant, whose steady progress in admittedly ordinary novices contests may be good enough.

One to watch

Rishikesh (M Bell), an unraced three-year-old Cape Cross half-brother to Sariska, has been moving impressively in his work on the Newmarket gallops.

Where the money's going

Frankel is now a general 1-2 for the 2,000 Guineas after just 19 remained in the Classic at yesterday's latest declaration stage, with Strong Suit and Zoffany notable defectors.