St Nicholas Abbey follows in Classic wake of Sea The Stars

Ballydoyle colt signposts Derby credentials with victory in Beresford Stakes

Stranger things have happened, certainly. But just as you could hardly have predicted the sort of dominion since established by the colt who planted his flag in the race last year, so you can only say that St Nicholas Abbey remains a perfectly feasible candidate for the 2010 Classics after winning the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh yesterday.

A year ago, Sea The Stars won by just half a length, with three others sharing a photo for second. His immaculate achievements since leave him hot favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, while his reputation was burnished anew at Ascot on Saturday when Rip Van Winkle, who gave him the hardest race of his campaign at Sandown in July, confirmed himself a top-class animal in his own right in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

St Nicholas Abbey won by three-quarters of a length from Layali Al Andalus, whose precise merit remains uncertain after disappointing on his only previous attempt at this level. But the winner betrayed little hesitation in making his own graduation, challenging smoothly under Johnny Murtagh before briefly running green. He then stretched out eagerly, pretty much on his own initiative, against a rival showing all the trademark determination of Mark Johnston's best horses.

In winning his maiden over course and distance so easily, after all, St Nicholas Abbey would not have learnt a great deal about his vocation. All in all, it was a cogent expression of all the loose talk that preceded him here, which was sufficient to see him backed down to 2-5 favourite. On the same basis, the son of Montjeu is now no better than 12-1 for the Investec Derby itself, with Coral, and as low as 8-1 in places.

Like Rip Van Winkle, St Nicholas Abbey is trained at Ballydoyle by Aidan O'Brien, whose familiar habits in the development of young talent entitle punters to hope that he can become an Epsom horse. Sure enough, O'Brien indicated that his 10th Beresford winner would proceed to Doncaster next month for the Racing Post Trophy; and should he happen to win that, then you can bet every last farthing that he would resurface in a Derby trial at Leopardstown next spring.

"He looks to be a Classic-type horse for next year," O'Brien assented. But much the same was being said a year ago about Rip Van Winkle, and a combination of his own delicate feet, and the fleet ones of Sea The Stars, demonstrates the sort of hazards yet awaiting even those of authentic Classic calibre. At all events, this one is in the right hands and, so far, he is doing all the right things.

Johnston may have missed out on the kudos, but he came away with the cash anyway after saddling another doughty juvenile, Shakespearean, to stem a series of late assaults in the Goffs Million Mile. He was all out to hold a pair of outsiders in Marfach and Nurture – whose trainer, Richard Hannon, had already reiterated his expertise in races of this type when Lucky General beat his stablemate, Full Mandate, in the Goffs Million Sprint.

Johnston speculated that he might just have had the best five minutes of his career after learning that Jukebox Jury had, likewise, scraped home in a Group One race in Cologne. Unbelievably, Jukebox Jury duly reinforced still further the epoch-making form shown by Sea The Stars in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes. He beat Rip Van Winkle a length that day, the pair four and a half clear of the subsequent King George winner, Conduit; and it was another nine lengths back to Jukebox Jury in sixth place.

Only a week left, then, for Sea The Stars to stay sound and the weather in Paris dry. The favourite's challengers may well include Dar Re Mi, despite connections' vexation over the failure of their appeal against the filly's eccentric demotion in the Prix Vermeille. Lady Lloyd-Webber, her owner, hopes that the episode might yet prompt the French authorities to reconsider their rules on interference, but sees no point in sitting out an Arc merely out of pique.

As for Rip Van Winkle, he will now try to emulate Raven's Pass last year by proceeding to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Between them, these colts have confirmed the place in the calendar of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, even if only four horses showed up this time. By the same token, the difficulty of merging this meeting with Champions' Day at Newmarket next month was elaborated yesterday when Mawatheeq's impressive success in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes prompted Marcus Tregoning to propose a crack at the Emirates Champion Stakes. Richard Hills, his rider, meanwhile went on to complete a 202-1 treble when Sayif won the John Guest Diadem Stakes.

Turf account Chris McGrath


Suba (4.0 Wolverhampton)

Superbly bred, still lightly raced for her new trainer, and looked capable of improving past this rating when fourth over an extra furlong at Goodwood last time, burning round most of the field before flattening out.

Next best

Mabait (5.0 Wolverhampton)

Can complete a double for Suba's connections, raised just 3lb for his recent display over course and distance, having been good value for his win after coming off the bridle early.

One To Watch

Alsace Lorraine (J R Fanshawe) did not get the breaks at Ascot on Saturday, short of room before flying into second. She remains likely to prove even better over 10f.

Where The Money's Going

Electrolyser is 11-1 from 14-1 with the sponsors for the Totesport Cesarewitch after his win at Ascot yesterday.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most