Daban proves diamond in the rough in Antiques Roadshow at Newmarket
Wednesday 19 April 2017
Spring classic trials can often resemble an edition of Antique Roadshow, where the viewer is invited to determine which are going to prove priceless gems and those that are worthless.
Few would dispute that the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket on Wednesday, won by Daban and Frankie Dettori, was the genuine article but there was a caveat for those tempted to back her to follow up in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas on Sunday fortnight.
Moments after the inexperienced daughter of Acclamation had arrived late on the scene to master her ten rivals, trainer John Gosden indicated that she is not certain to reappear at the Rowley Mile in 18 days time and may instead head for the French equivalent.
In normal circumstances she would be an automatic runner back at Headquarters but Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah, her owner, has another intriguing contender in Dabyah, also trained by Gosden, and how she fares in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury on Saturday will determine which filly heads where.
Betbright make Daban a best-priced 16-1 for the English Guineas (she is as short as 10-1 with some firms), while Dabyah is a general 14-1. Rhododendron, the impressive Fillies’ Mile winner, remains at the head of the market and is no bigger than 3-1.
Trying to read trainers at such times can be an expensive exercise but Gosden, whose only previous 1,000 Guineas winner was Lahan in 2000, left the impression he would relish Daban having the opportunity to become the first filly to complete the Nell Gwyn/1,000 Guineas double since Speciosa 11 years ago.
Daban clearly possesses plenty of speed, which she had previously shown when producing a striking turn of foot to win on her debut at Kempton in November. However the attribute that Gosden, who completed a treble courtesy of First Danceand Middle Kingdom, seems to like most about her is what is between her ears.
"Dabyah has been to France [when a close third in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on Arc day] and maybe this filly can come here and Dabyah can go to France," he said, almost thinking aloud, or perhaps hoping the absent owner might be listening somewhere.
"I think she is the kind of filly that in a race they will know if they go by her. She is tough and has got a great mind.
"She had a little argument with Frankie in the first furlong, but she stumbled and picked up and wanted to go a bit. There is no reason a filly like this won't mentally improve as well as physically improve - she is the type of filly that could well be in the frame. I wouldn't start bragging any more than that."
One way or another, it will be a surprise if the race does not at least have a bearing on the Guineas.
The first two home in the Cheveley Park, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Brave Anna and Roly Poly, disappointed but there seemed no excuses for Sea Of Grace or Poet’s Vanity, both Group Three winners last year.
Sea Of Grace flattened out after looking a big player coming out of the Dip to finish fifth, while the latter faded in to third after being ridden from the front as if fitness was not an issue.
Andre Fabre’s Pamplemousse could never get in contention and it was left to the Hugo Palmer-trained Unforgetable Filly (she is missing a "t" as her name uses up the maximum 18 characters allowed) to chase the winner home.
Palmer pointed out that his filly was more backward in her coat than the others in the line-up and two decent judges - James Doyle and Michael Hills - have assured him the extra furlong will not inconvenience her.
Little wonder, then, that she will definitely be back for the Guineas and, still available at 33-1 with Stan James, there will be worse each-way bets than her on May 7.
"The well-rated and fancied fillies' disappointed early in the race but I do like the second and I was most impressed with the third when she won at Salisbury,” Gosden said, evaluating the merit of the rivals that Daban had defeated.
"It is easy to knock it [the form], but I think they are talented fillies and let’s see what the Fred Darling has, then as usual let's see what turns up fresh on the day without a run."
Earlier, the Bet365 European Free Handicap was won in emphatic style from the front by O’Brien’s Whitecliffsofdover, a striking War Front colt who really fills the eye.
He won off a mark of 108 and would certainly be worth his place in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas but he is not entered and, while he could be supplemented, he seems more likely to head for the French or Irish equivalents.
All of O’Brien’s previous seven 2,000 Guineas winners have been making their reappearances in the race and that is the plan for the stable’s outstanding candidate, Churchill, the general 6-4 favourite.
On Thursday, other 2,000 Guineas aspirants will get their chance to advance their claims in the bet 365 Craven Stakes.
Among them will be the imposing Larchmont Lad, trained by the in-form Richard Hannon, who beat Whitecliffsofdover fair and square in the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket in the autumn.
After Steel Of Madrid (10-1) had gained a fluent success in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes, Hannon issued an upbeat bulletin regarding Larchmont Lad but added that, because of the colt’s size, he would benefit from the run.
The Craven will feature a son of Frankel, Eminent, but his two progeny to run at the meeting so far have proved excitable and fluffed their lines.
Seven Heavens again raced much too keenly in the Free Handicap and will now be switched to sprinting.
Gosden, his trainer, who had a 1,614-1 four-timer divided between Newmarket and Beverley, says the Commonwealth Cup will be a target if it turns out to be his forte.