Tenby and Commander poised to make history
HENRY Cecil can become the first trainer in 45 years to send out the winning quinella in the Derby at Epsom, and no-one could be more confident than the nine-times champion himself.
''I am absolutely thrilled with Tenby, and although I think there is improvement in Commander In Chief, I don't think we could have got him to the race any better. I'm delighted,'' Cecil said on the eve of the Classic.
When owner Prince Khalid Abdullah finalised his Derby team, relying on Tenby and Commander In Chief, and leaving Armiger possibly for the French Derby on Sunday (if the ground is soft enough), it was the signal for the serious betting to commence.
Tenby remains a very warm favourite, now at 4-6, with Lester Piggott's mount Fatherland, which is bound to be well-supported largely through sentiment, now the second favourite at 6-1.
There is no doubt that Commander In Chief, at 8-1 is enormous value - and a must for quinella combinations.
Over the years there have been many different types of Derby winner. The Minstrel was a fighter, who battled until the final bell; Troy kept pounding away, devouring the ground with every stride at the end of the staying test; while Shergar displayed galloping brilliance that had all the hallmarks of greatness.
But if there is one word to sum up Tenby, the neat, nuggety powerhouse of a horse, it is efficiency. Not brilliance, nor elegance, nor awesome power; just sheer ruthless efficiency.
And it is this highly professional approach - plus more than a little talent - that I expect to enable Tenby to take Flat racing's great accolade, victory in the Epsom Derby.
Cecil has been the star of the Derby show in the build-up to the big event, and with three talented colts in the race at the five-day stage, why shouldn't he be? Cecil had been telling all those who would listen that reports of Tenby's lack of enthusiasm in his work were nothing to worry about.
We Doubting Thomases had to travel to Newmarket to see for ourselves, and with the utmost patience Cecil guided us through the workout, sitting astride his hack and giving a running commentary.
As the trio of Tenby and his two lead horses, Placerville and Wharf, flashed by it was very obvious that Tenby was in excellent order and lacking nothing as far as fitness was concerned.
The look on Cecil's face as he turned to we scribes said it all: ''See I told you, you shouldn't believe everything you read in newspapers.'' I can see this year's Derby finishing as a Cecil and Abdullah 1-2. Tenby, whose victories at Newmarket and York were good without being outstanding, has excellent credentials - the only thing that has been unappealing about him has been his price.
In fact, Tenby's credentials have been so rock-solid that everybody has been concentrating their efforts in attempting to find a challenger who can knock him off his perch.
Barathea (who must be a suspect stayer) and Commander In Chief apart, I think we have failed to find one.
As they flash past the post in this year's Derby, I expect Tenby to be at the head of the pack, chased home by Commander In Chief, Barathea, with Planetary Aspect being best of the rest.