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Five things we learnt at Chester on Friday: Cliffs stands tall

Fri 12 May 2017

Tom Peacock on the Derby chances of Cliffs Of Moher, a bargain buy, a filly to remember and and two jockeys who have taken setbacks in their stride

By Tom Peacock

Cliffs standing tall:

Bookmaker reaction was mixed after Aidan O’Brien maintained his apparent hegemony of the Investec Derby, yet there could be reason to believe Cliffs Of Moher is a good bit better than he showed in landing the Homeserve Dee Stakes.

Not only had O’Brien hinted that the colt, a wide-margin winner of a Leopardstown maiden at the end of October, had experienced something of a rushed preparation to make a trial, jockey Ryan Moore explained afterwards that “he raced like a horse who was having his first run for a while”.

Coral and Paddy Power keep Cliffs Of Moher at 6-1 in their Classic betting, while Boylesports shortened him to just 4s, ahead of stablemate Churchill.

Beating the 101-rated Bay Of Poets by a length and a half does not make Derby-winning reading but Cliffs Of Moher, who moved lazily at times before giving an affirmative response to some persuasion, could realistically be a different proposition for the benefit of this experience.

 Bentley and Costello impress:

Two jockeys have now lost rides on Group One sprinters this week but both Dougie Costello and Harry Bentley will have won many more fans with the dignified manner in which they have behaved.

There was neither grandstanding nor bitterness in Costello’s interview on Racing UK on Wednesday when he talked about Quiet Reflection, and similarly by Bentley as he revealed the news on the channel on Friday that he would no longer be partnering Limato.

There are differences between the two, with Costello’s division lying with trainer Karl Burke, while Limato’s owner Paul Jacobs appears responsible for the change of jockey plan.

He who pays the piper calls the tune, as they say, but the piper has no tune without their instrument. Whether the mooted replacements upon Quiet Reflection and Limato, Martin Harley and James Doyle, are so much more suited to take the stage than the deposed riders remains to be seen, but Costello and Bentley are entitled to feel extremely disappointed, however diplomatically they expressed it.

Copper Knight proves a bargain buy:

A 5,000 guineas gamble by the Tim Easterby stable has paid off spectacularly with Copper Knight quadrupling that investment in just two runs.

The gelding won at Chester a year ago as an early two-year-old for Hugo Palmer and, after his form appeared to have tailed off in three subsequent runs in better races, connections decided to draw stumps and sent him to the Tattersalls Autumn horses in training sales.

Copper Knight was second at Ripon on his debut for Easterby at Ripon and could not have taken the Sustainable Group (UK) Ltd Handicap much more easily as he flew from the stalls. Another financial instalment could come from him at York next week.

 Hymn makes it a thriller:

Two horses that have regularly put their supporters on edge combined to produce the finish of the Boodles May Festival in the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes.

Both US Army Ranger and Western Hymn have well above average ability yet somehow manage to rattle the crossbar rather than hit the net on most occasions.

With first-time cheekpieces and usually seen to best effect when fresh, Western Hymn’s head was put in front right on the line by Frankie Dettori as US Army Ranger tied up in the final strides.

Both will surely head on to Royal Ascot, where it seems more likely they will revert to type and find something too good.

 Gymnaste wins doing handstands:

Dettori and trainer John Gosden made it a double in the TMT Group Maiden Fillies' Stakes with Gymnaste, a three-year-old we should be hearing more of later in the season.

Not cheap at €260,000, she was second to Musidora Stakes entry Diamond Folly on her debut at Newcastle last November over a mile, and had no problems stepping down to seven furlongs here, quickening readily clear as soon as she was asked.

Gymnaste’s pedigree suggests she will be suited by a return to a mile, perhaps in a fillies’ handicap somewhere before her attentions can be turned to gathering some black type.

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