Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Frankel has Rod to beat

A dozen colts dared to stand their ground against Frankel when the final declarations for the season's first Classic were made yesterday, but perhaps none of them will match the significance of one who did not.

In electing to rely solely on Roderic O'Connor in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket tomorrow, Aidan O'Brien and his patrons at Ballydoyle finally committed to running Master Of Hounds in the Kentucky Derby, seven days later.

Casamento will make his debut for Godolphin in the Guineas, ridden by Frankie Dettori.

The draw could not have worked out less conveniently for Tom Queally, who could find Frankel harder to settle if seeing too much daylight from stall one.

Among laymen, there will perhaps be more fascination in Royal Wedding, who runs in the 5.30 race at Fontwell today.

Meanwhile, in a departure that dovetails the willingness of both men to experiment, Mark Johnston yesterday revealed that he is sending a horse to be trained by Gerard Butler when his rival opens a satellite stable in North America next week.

Butler, who is flying half a dozen horses from his Newmarket stable to Chicago, has won the attention and admiration of Johnston in boldly seeking better prize money for his patrons.

And, with a corresponding disdain for orthodoxy, the record-breaking Middleham trainer has decided to transfer one of his own horses to share the adventure.

“I've been talking to Gerard for quite some time about his plans,” Johnston explained yesterday.

“It's a very good move, particularly given the current prize money situation in this country.

“Joe Le Taxi only has about £9,000 to show for winning four races on the all-weather, and fits into the category of horse Gerard thinks will have more viable opportunities out there.”

Butler regards Johnston's involvement as heartening vindication for his strategy.

“Mark knows the racing landscape in this country backwards, and it's a great boost that he thinks we might be onto something,” he said. “We're initially stabling our team at Arlington Park.”

A below-tariff race scheduled at Leicester today has been abandoned after a successful boycott, none of those trainers who had made an entry going through with a declaration.

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