The man who saddled the 2006 winner yesterday resolved to ride the crest of a wave back to the Investec Derby on Saturday week. Marcus Tregoning, trainer of Sir Percy, has sent out five winners from nine runners since Cavaleiro finished third on his reappearance in the Lingfield Trial. And while he did consider a less demanding option at Goodwood on Friday, Tregoning anticipates so much improvement from the colt that he now intends to wait for the big one.
At Lingfield, Cavaleiro was beaten nearly seven lengths behind race-fit rivals in a race switched from the saturated turf track to the all-weather circuit. As such, he could never demonstrate his relish for the configuration that broadly unites Lingfield and Epsom, while Tregoning was also satisfied that the colt, who flourished with racing in his first season, badly needed the run.
"I wasn't at all disappointed with his trial, because he'd had a setback and I knew he would improve a ton," the Lambourn trainer explained yesterday. "I've taken him to Lingfield to school him down the hill and round the corner, and he does handle the camber very well. He's come out of his race bouncing and kicking and, if you take away the favourite, the Derby looks very open. It's an unusual year. We've seen some unimpressive trials on difficult ground. Some of them will improve, no doubt, but I think this horse will definitely get the trip and can run a big race."
Tregoning attributes his recent purple patch to his forbearance during the wet spring. "The majority of our horses are better on quicker ground so we just had to bide our time," he said.
The four-length success of Hawaafez in a Listed race at Newbury on Saturday was itself a reward for patience, as she had disappeared for four months after Royal Ascot last year. "She couldn't really cope with training," Tregoning said. "But why should she? She was enormous, for a three-year-old. She had a winter away at Shadwell and came back in magnificent condition. Now she's a really big, strong mare and I've been really pleased with her all the way along this year. I think she'll be better on faster ground."
Tregoning trained both the sire, Nayef, and dam of Hawaafez and is so confident in her stamina that he is disposed to run her in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Mulaqen, another big horse who has needed time, may be aimed at the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at the royal meeting after his striking win at the Dante meeting. "But he has been put up 13lb, and I wonder if he was slightly flattered," Tregoning cautioned. "Sometimes a horse that's enjoying the ground can just boot away from the front."
After some trying times since 2006, Tregoning hopes to sustain the renewed momentum with his juveniles. "They're coming along and I might run one by Sir Percy at Goodwood on Saturday," he said. "We might not have as many as we used to, but hopefully two or three of them might turn out to be quite nice."
Chris McGrath's Nap
Lindoro (5.20 Southwell) Thriving for his new yard and no higher than turf mark he has defied.
Passato (5.45 Chepstow) Has the potential to prove thrown in off this ancient rating.
One to watch
Corsetry (Sir Henry Cecil) Lasted best of those who contested a strong pace when third at Nottingham yesterday.
Where the money's going
Wrote is 14-1 from 20-1 with Paddy Power for the Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday.