Biancone maps out Derby plan
TRACKWORK yesterday was all about the challenge Mr Vitality will face come tomorrow's Derby.
Mr Vitality is in tip-top condition. That much has already been underlined in his work earlier this week.
But his main opponents, Deauville and Adjareli, plus the Derby's unknown quantity, Michael's Choice, went through their paces yesterday and they are primed to run for their lives.
There's no better trainer when it comes to setting a horse for one particular race than the master French handler Patrick Biancone and true to fashion there was a plan behind the way he worked Deauville and Michael's Choice yesterday.
He purposely mis-matched them, pitching them in against youngsters Powernamic and Pakistan Treasure.
It was like a boxer having his last sparring session before a shot at a world title. This was confidence-building stuff.
Biancone considers Deauville to be his main Derby hope. He is as much in the dark as everyone else as to whether Michael's Choice is ready to make the huge jump in grade and defeat the best four-year-olds in training.
Yesterday Deauville came through an easier 1,200-metre hit-out than Michael's Choice, clocking a comfortable, fluent and most impressive one minute and 20.9 seconds under jockey Eric Legrix who has already won one Hong Kong Derby.
That came on Helene Star and, watching a replay of that victory at Thursday night's Derby barrier draw it was possible to see how much Legrix has improved for his time spent here.
He was good on Helene Star but now he's absolutely world-class.
Michael's Choice was asked to run 1:16.7 with Thierry Jarnet on board. Again it was impressive stuff and the reasoning behind this stronger piece was almost certainly that he is not so experienced, not so much the finished article as Deauville and has to be pushed just that little bit more.
After all, tomorrow's eagerly-awaited Derby will be only his fifth career start.
Champion trainer John Moore has taken the blinkers of Adjareli in an effort to get him to relax and see out the 1,800-metre trip.
The gun metal grey is fitter for his run in the Classic Trial and while he has 23/4 lengths to make up on Deauville and 31/2 lengths to make up on Mr Vitality, he has noticeably hardened up.
He does also have a certain second in the Group One Irish 2,000 Guineas to his name and it is pretty hard to knock European Classic form.
He looked well and relaxed, by his standards, and the in-form South African pilot Felix Coetzee appears to have developed a good rapport with him.
In other work yesterday, Outerwear looked on good terms with himself as he completed his preparation for tomorrow's second event.
There were also two trials on the main all-weather surface. Happy Guy won the first of them but these days he finds it much tougher when put under full racing pressure.
The progressive Dancing Win took the second and he is one to follow. He's now with David Hill and should be placed to advantage before the season ends.
The griffins, Rainbow Seeker, Mr Belief and Scotch Gem all showed definite promise.