Shaamit not yet a Lammtarra

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The Independent Online
The Derby, under attack from many quarters, has yet to fail in its most important function - testing the Classic generation's worth. The strength of the Derby winner remains the surest indicator of a good or bad year.

That quality can appear somewhat strained, however, in the immediate muddle of the Derby form itself. This year, only one victor, Chief Contender, has emerged from 12 subsequent efforts by Shaamit's victims at Epsom last month. But that is par for Derby fields.

By the time of the King George, the corresponding strike-rate for the previous three years was two from 12, two from 24 and nought from six. In 1977, the Derby contestants had yielded just one win from 21 subsequent efforts before The Minstrel's stirring King George victory - that of The Ministrel himself in the Irish Derby.

It is in comparison with last year's Derby winner, the great Lammtarra, that Shaamit's King George chances are best assessed. Both have trodden an injury-strewn path and done their growing-up in public.

But Lammtarra came into the Derby with far better form than Shaamit's, having won a Listed race from the Group-class filly Myself in an exceptional debut time. William Haggas's colt, by contrast, beat ordinary horses for his maiden win and has yet to put up a fast time.

The official handicapper's assessment of Shaamit's Derby win, a rating of 123, is on a par with that accorded to Lammtarra at the same stage. In terms of comparitive form and times this seems excessive - 117 would be nearer the mark.

Even on the optimistic view, Shaamit has nothing to spare against battle- hardened adversaries in Classic Cliche and Pentire. Lammtarra's generation should triumph on Saturday.



124 Pentire, 122 Luso, 121 Classic Cliche, Swain, 119 Singspiel, Strategic Choice, 117 Oscar Schindler, Shaamit, 116 Annus Mirabilis, 114 Farasan, 112 Song Of Tara.