Sunday 21 January 2018

Maligned Dylan to show a bit of 'Spark'

Struggling sire could finally deliver as Doyle replaces Spencer on Meehan miler

Jupiter Light (left), with Robert Tart up, gets the better of Archetype to win the Beck Handicap Stakes at Sandown Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Jupiter Light (left), with Robert Tart up, gets the better of Archetype to win the Beck Handicap Stakes at Sandown Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Johnny Ward

Rather like the 'great minor' who never developed into much of a senior for one reason or another, every now and then a much-heralded stallion will regress into obscurity.

By the time Derby winner Pour Moi provided another in Wings Of Eagles this year, he had already been quietly shifted to Coolmore's jumps roster. However, he is a relatively young stallion and nothing like the disappointment that Dylan Thomas has been.

Dylan Thomas, which Kieren Fallon once said was the best horse he ever rode, was understandably popular at €50,000 when he was sent to stud initially. He is now also on Coolmore's jumps list and costs €5,000.

Though a let-down, the son of Danehill did unsurprisingly sire the odd high-class horse. One of the best left still running, Spark Plug, may take York's Listed Best Western Hotels Ganton Stakes today.

Like his dad, Spark Plug stays farther than a mile, but if there is any pace on he will perhaps be finishing stronger than any. Some felt Jamie Spencer gave the horse too much to do when he was beaten in a photo at Goodwood. James Doyle takes over aboard the Brian Meehan-trained steed.

The first TV race is the Queen Mother's Cup Handicap. It is nice to see Lisa O'Neill, who had yet another winner at Leopardstown on Thursday, take the steer on Charismatic Man, by another relatively disappointing sire in brilliant racer Dalakhani.

This is a low-stakes event and Purple Rock, which bombed when favourite at Musselburgh, may be worth another chance for 86-year-old trainer Mick Easterby.

Also on the Knavesmire, the JCB Handicap is tough. Mazyoun has come down in the weights and, with the in-form Joseph Gordon back in the plate, this three-year-old should relish the demands of a big field. He often races keenly.

A classy Catherine Kinloch Paver Memorial Macmillan Charity Handicap concludes the televised fare. Ekhtiyaar has progressed from one race to the next, and his game success at Newmarket, when he was snatched up at a crucial stage, augurs favourably for his future.

Musselburgh stages the William Hill Tartan Trophy Consolation Race Handicap. Easterby's nephew Tim has two strong contenders here in Rasheeq and Excessable, but it might be worth chancing Tylery Wonder.

This tearaway has taken well to life with Paul Midgley. He has already registered three victories off marks in the 80s in Ireland. Today he competes off 78.

That race is a consolation prize for the Sprint Cup. A shot in the dark in the big one, Jack Dexter, has dropped down to a rating of just 92, rendering him a near-certainty if anywhere near his best.

It is worth recalling that he was placed, beaten under a length, at Royal Ascot last July when notably rated 101. He was not disgraced last time and is a hopeful pick for Scottish handler Jim Goldie.

Another "channel-hop and you'll miss it" race, the Randox Health Scurry Stakes, forms the Sandown action on ITV4. It is hard to be confident about reverting to the minimum trip being ideal for the Kodiac-bred Koropic, which ran a much better race at Epsom than he did at Newbury.

It remains early days with this speedy sort and is worth recalling he was only beaten four lengths in the Middle Park last September, just behind high-class Ballydoyle runner Intelligence Cross. The Hugo Palmer-trained horse was trading at 16/1 yesterday evening.

Kodiac, incidentally, has a tale at stud that is directly the opposite to that of Dylan Thomas: he never won as much as a Listed race and started at €5,000 but now stands for ten times that. Kodiac became something of a stallion sensation, which few could have predicted - but then one Lar Corbett never hurled minor for Tipp.

Watching Brief . . .

It is hard to believe that the French Oaks – the Prix de Diane Longines – has never gone the way of Aidan O'Brien. Until tomorrow, quite possibly.

Jean-Claude Rouget has been dominant in the heat in recent years, run over a controversial trip of an extended ten furlongs that has long had many in these parts bemoan the nomenclature: like the course-and-distance French Derby, they say, it is not an Oaks at all – and nor is that a Derby.

O'Brien will hardly complain, as the intermediate distance must be nearly ideal for his contender tomorrow, Rhododendron. It is said that connections could not countenance defeat before stablemate Winter upset her at Newmarket, and the same applied at Epsom, when she was no match for Enable.

Whether she did not quite stay or the interrupted flight preparations on the day were to blame – if either – is up for debate. Tomorrow she disputes favouritism with Shutter Speed, the John Gosden runner, both drawn slightly higher than middle.

Irish Independent

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