Abbey clash one to savour
Although John Dunlop was entitled to rejoice after Elusive Pimpernel's tour de force in Thursday's Craven Stakes, supporters of St Nicholas Abbey will have been equally pleased with the outcome. Who can forget how the colt, trained by Aidan O'Brien (above), toyed with Elusive Pimpernel at Doncaster in October?
Dunlop, a true gent of the Turf, acknowledged as much while pointing out that his horse has thrived over the winter. Indeed he has, but one aspect of Elusive Pimpernel's victory raised an interesting question. He didn't seem entirely happy on the fast surface when he was asked to quicken on the downhill run into Newmarket's famous "dip". He engaged overdrive only when he met the rising ground approaching the final furlong.
St Nicholas Abbey himself must answer that very same question two weeks from today. But with Elusive Pimpernel less than convincing during what will be a critical stage of the 2,000 Guineas, the Ballydoyle colt remains in pole position. It should be some race.