Allan's Euro-star rises to Dee Stakes challenge
HENRY Cecil knows there is not much he can tell Hong Kong trainer Ivan Allan about the horses he owns in this part of the world. Certainly not after the performances this season of Allan's Cicerao, the tenacious winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester this week.
''Before Cicerao won at Newmarket last month, I phoned Ivan and told him not to back the horse as he would need the run,'' said Cecil, who trains the three-year-old son of Alzao.
''So before the Chester race (on Thursday), Ivan said he didn't care what I thought, he was going to do what he liked, anyway. But I don't think he's backed him this time, either.
''The price is not short enough - unless he has backed him in Jamaica or Timbuktu.'' Cicerao was sent off the 2-1 favourite.
And if there were any disappointed faces after the running of the 181st Year of the Dee Stakes, it was simply because Cicerao does not hold an entry in the Ever Ready Derby at Epsom on June 1.
Initially, the colt had trouble in securing an early position near the inside rail, but once handily placed, he travelled well for Walter Swinburn.
He lost ground when making the home bend awkwardly, but there was never much doubt that he would reel in Rainbow Heights, the early leader, once he became balanced in the straight. This he did in some style and raced away to beat Waiting by 21/2 lengths, with Rainbow Heights, weakening for third, three-quarters of a length away.
''I only wish he were in the Derby,'' lamented Swinburn. ''He's tough, and he's the type you just never seem to get to the bottom of. Broadway Flyer (winner of the Chester Vase and currently 8-1 Derby favourite) and Cicerao are the two best I've seen this year,'' the jockey added.
Cicerao could be a supplementary entry for the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly on June 5, a race which Swinburn feels would be ideal.
''He will get a mile and a half without any problems,'' Swinburn pointed out.
But from a Derby viewpoint, Cecil must have left the course greatly encouraged, just the same. A week ago, Bal Harbour - 16-1 for the Derby with Hills - ''toyed'' with Cicerao in a gallop at Newmarket, so this colt's reappearance in the Michael Seely Glasgow Stakes at York on Thursday will be of tremendous interest.
''Bal Harbour loathes soft ground and I am two gallops behind with him,'' Cecil admitted, ''But we're heading for Epsom.'' When Cicerao won at Newmarket, he defeated Erhaab and Weigh Anchor, who are both in next Wednesday's tantalising Dante Stakes, on which Ladbrokes bet 2-1 Mister Baileys, 7-2 King's Theatre and Linney Head, 7-1 Erhaab, 8-1 Pencader and 12-1 Weigh Anchor.
Broadway Flyer, who is trained by John Hills, turned in the most impressive Derby trial so far when romping home the five-length winner of Tuesday's Dalham Chester Vase, making virtually every yard of the running. He didn't beat much but he quickened the tempo five furlongs out and soon had his rivals struggling.
So impressed have bookmakers and punters been, Broadway Flyer has displaced Mister Baileys, the 2,000 Guineas winner, as Derby favourite. The 14-1 available shortly after the Vase victory very quickly disappeared, shrinking to 8-1 in just 24 hours.
Still the most remarkable development of the past eight days, in my view, has been the outstanding performance of the Dubai-trained runners at the Madagans Guineas meeting. Even in an advanced veterinary age, there are still mysteries attached to the travelling of horses from one part of the world to another.
There is one theory that the later horses are shipped into a new environment, the less effect the journey has, but that a period of physical deterioration occurs a week or so after arrival. Last year Dayflower was flown in from the Middle East for the 1,000 Guineas but then went ''off the boil'' for a time shortly after.
But reports from the Newmarket office of Godolphin Racing, owners of Balanchine and State Performer, indicate that both have retained their form after finishing in the frame in the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, respectively, and now have Epsom as their next port of call.
''They are all bright and well,'' said Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin.
''They won't run again before the Oaks and Derby, so if they do go downhill, they should still have time to recover,'' he added.
The successful Guineas meeting had several heroes - most such as sponsor Bernard Gover have been recognised - but Sheik Mohammed's gesture in making available to Channel-4 the video of the Dubai racecourse ''trial'' of State Performer and Balanchine on the morning of the 2,000 Guineas stimulated huge interest and was a public relations coup, the likes of which has never been seen in these parts.