Tartan Bearer destroys Cecil's Derby dream

Vexing creatures, horses. Vexing, bloody-minded, perverse even. Or do they merely absorb and amplify the foibles of their masters? On the first day of this meeting, the success of Lush Lashes enabled Jim Bolger to reiterate a mysterious aversion to Epsom. Yesterday, in pitiless contrast, the failure of Twice Over left another trainer stricken by his infatuation with the place.

Henry Cecil was unmistakably aghast as he saw Twice Over relegated to the lowest tier of the podium while Tartan Bearer gamely saw off Frozen Fire in the Totesport Dante Stakes. His colt had come here unbeaten, sacrificing a crack at the 2,000 Guineas in order to maximise his chance in the Vodafone Derby. But it turns out that Cecil had turned down a bird in the hand, for two in the bush.

Though he had expressed reservations about the fast ground, Cecil drew impassively on a cigarette as Twice Over travelled smoothly through the race. But as the stub burned down towards his fingers, so did Khaled Abdulla's colt seem to discover his own limits. Cecil's worn features revealed first anxiety, and then alarm, as Twice Over failed to join issue under pressure in the straight. Afterwards, in a moment of inadvertent cruelty, Ted Durcan told Cecil that his mount might prove better off over a strongly-run mile. In other words, a race like the 2,000 Guineas.

Trainers, quite understandably, do not like to be told that they are running horses in the wrong races – whether by dishevelled scribblers or other, no less meddlesome bystanders (sometimes, perhaps, including their own patrons). But the public is becoming increasingly bewildered, this season, by the Classic strategies of some of the modern Turf's most accomplished horsemen.

In fairness, while few can know quite what to make of Bolger, nobody imagines Cecil guilty of wilful pursuit of some peculiar, quixotic agenda. It is true that Twice Over was never guaranteed to get the Derby trip, but nobody entertained the possibility that his stamina might fail over the intermediate distance here. After all, he had won over 10 furlongs even as a juvenile.

"I am not blaming the ground, as all the others went on it," Cecil said. "He came there and emptied out. He was disappointing really. Whether he needs to come back in distance or not, I don't know. It is up to the Prince, but I don't think he will run in the Derby after that."

His perplexity was mirrored by the bookmakers as they sought to identify a new Derby favourite. Some went for Curtain Call. One decided on Casual Conquest, on the basis that he will surely be supplemented now. And others, mindful of the fact that three of the last four Dante winners had followed up at Epsom, cut to the chase with Tartan Bearer.

After all, Sir Michael Stoute has now saddled the winners of three different Derby trials, and the fact that he chose the toughest of them for Tartan Bearer is presumably expressive of his belief. This flashy chestnut had previously contested just two maidens, but obviously shares the aptitude of his brother, Golan, won the 2,000 Guineas on only his second start.

Held up by Ryan Moore as Centennial harried McCartney in the lead, Tartan Bearer engaged readily as the field spread into the straight. Getting past Frozen Fire with a furlong still to run, he was always just holding the Irish colt, who ostensibly rallied to force the photo. The likelihood is that the winner was idling in front; stamina should not be an issue, Golan having also won a King George. Regardless, it was two and a half lengths back to Twice Over, in turn well clear of the humdrum Centennial, with the Godolphin pair bringing up the rear.

Stoute won this race in 2004 with North Light – also owned and bred by Ballymacoll Stud – and did not demur over Tartan Bearer's eligibility to follow that colt to Epsom. "I have to say I'm entitled to be fairly hopeful about this fellow," he said. "He has progressed so well since Leicester. It got a little bit tight out there, he had to go for that split, and was probably just in front long enough. The experience should have taught him a good deal."

He confirmed that Tajaaweed would also go to the Derby, and Doctor Fremantle, his other Chester winner, may yet run as well. That colt would have to be supplemented for £75,000, but Abdulla may well be tempted now that Twice Over is out of the game.

As for Frozen Fire, the fact that he started at 14-1 implied a fairly meek standing among the many potential Derby colts at Ballydoyle; on the other hand, the fact that Aidan O'Brien had been prepared to run him in a Group One race last autumn, after just one start, told a rather different story. The handsome Montjeu colt is entitled to a rematch over the extra distance at Epsom. Notoriously, however, no horse has ever won the Derby after being beaten in the Dante. And history offers a far more explicit precedent to the winner, who was foaled in the very same stall as North Light.

DERBY (Epsom, 7 June) Coral: 3-1 Casual Conquest (with a run), 4-1 Tartan Bearer, 5-1 Curtain Call, 7-1 Frozen Fire, 9-1 Tajaaweed, 10-1 Henrythenavigator, 14-1 Doctor Freemantle, Kingdom Of Naples, 16-1 Kandahar Run, Alessandro Volta, 20-1 Bronze Cannon, Rio De La Plata, Washington Irving, 25-1 others.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Wyatt Earp

(York 4.20)

NB: Honolulu

(York 2.40)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss