Carlton House lays marker for Derby
Carlton House, owned by the Queen, is the new 6/4 favourite for the Epsom Derby following his workmanlike victory in the last of the big trials at York yesterday.
The Dante Stakes looked the strongest of all the trials and has in recent years produced Workforce, Authorized and Motivator.
However, the race was run at a pathetic gallop and the way Carlton House cut down Seville -- going a length and a half clear inside the last furlong -- is by no means a conclusive measure of their relative prospects at Epsom.
One of the central protagonists put it well. "It was a horrible race," he said. "It's a shame, really, because nobody learned a great deal. It was a messy, stupid race."
And that was Ryan Moore, who rode the winner.
In fairness, the Michael Stoute-trained colt retains as much right as Seville to prove better still, granted a more searching gallop over the longer distance at Epsom. His principal scope for progress, however, rests in his prior lack of experience.
Runaway winner of a Newbury maiden on his second start last autumn, he proved green at the stalls and was then reluctant to settle as the outsider Pisco Sour led them hesitantly through the gale.
It was a similar story, just alongside, for the other big Newmarket fancy. In the case of Henry Cecil's World Domination, however, there would be a price to pay when the pace finally picked up. He was spent, and so compounded the disappointment of Arizona Jewel for the same connections the previous afternoon.
Moore, in contrast, was able to send his mount in comfortable pursuit of Pisco Sour and Seville onto the stands rail -- a regular manoeuvre in easy conditions at this meeting -- and then angle between them.
His clear priority in doing so was education. And Stoute expects Carlton House to profit from the whole experience.
"He will have learned a bit and went through quite a tight opening," Stoute said. "He has a good mind. I think he was just taking the micky at the stalls. He stood really chilled and when he went to load he just thought he'd have a bit of a game. That probably revved him up a bit in the early stages."
John Warren, her racing manager, had talked the Queen through the race and related that she had given "a yelp" when Moore went for that gap. "I loved the way he went through," Warren said.
"It shows he'd have no trouble with a course like Epsom, where you might get trouble."
The race certainly worked out better for Carlton House than it had for Workforce last year, when Stoute and Moore persevered from a pardonable defeat to win at Epsom.
You could yet see something similar from Aidan O'Brien's Seville, which was given a drowsy ride by Christophe Soumillon. This colt will never do anything in a hurry but his jockey still had his posterior stuck in the air as they cruised past the two-pole, with all bar the winner in trouble.
O'Brien indicated that Seville would proceed to Epsom for the rematch, for which he looks sound each-way value at 7/1. "It was a very good race and a very good trial," he said. "We are delighted with our fella but the winner picked up better than we did."
If World Domination is out of the Epsom equation, at least connections will be at the meeting with the brilliant mare Midday, which coped with a penalty on her reappearance earlier in the card and now tackles the Coronation Cup. (© Independent News Service)