Hannon ‘at the double’ but be ready for the ‘Hurricane!’

Hurricane Lane, unbeaten after gaining a dramatic third success in the group two Dante Stakes over an extended ten furlongs of York earlier this month, meets my personal median time-handicap requirement for the Epsom Derby a week today but, surprisingly, he’s showing at double-digit odds despite being Godolphin owned, mount of William Buick and trained by Charlie Appleby who landed the ‘Worlds’ greatest horserace’ three years ago with Masar, a classy 16/1 winner for this ultra-consistent, dedicated Newmarket-based Southampton-born forty-five-year-old. Napped in this column!

Recently I mentioned we are in for a quality treat on the famous Downs after watching Aidan O’Brien-trained Bolshoi Ballet make all at Leopardstown, Poetic Flare prove successful in the English 2000 Guineas and stable companion Mac Sliney outgun him subsequently in the Irish equivalent last weekend; a fabulous one/two for veteran trainer Jim Bolger and now there is another certainly worth adding to the mix!

On the back of a fiercely-run race around the Knavesmire seventeen days ago Hurricane Lane not only enters calculations but is undoubtedly ‘best-in’ and appeals tremendously because stamina is unlikely to be an issue; the way this Frankel colt ‘dug in’ after being rousted by William approaching the final furlong suggests further will be ideal. Buick said immediately afterwards ‘this race is usually the best trial for the Derby!’

He’s right and so was yours truly when I asked Greville Starkey does John Dunlop-trained Shirley Heights ‘have the class for the Derby’ after winning the ‘Dante’ way back in 1978; “yes!” he replied in a strong tone. You know the rest.

During my years as journalist/racecourse reporter I’d always ‘walk in’ with winning jockeys and chat briefly knowing such words before dismounting were pure gold as euphoria grips any human after triumph, whatever the level. Some of my journalistic contemporaries bucked at such temerity.

This went on for years and precluded the scrum around winning trainers/owners in winners’ enclosures; one day at Newbury I entered the press room just after my routine practice and a cultured voice followed and said, ‘what did he have to say, old boy!’

There were no flies on the commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan!

At this juncture I’m in the dark about definite plans for Hurricane Lane; ante-post betting is dangerous, as we found out a few years ago when Fakir D’oudaries was ‘scratched’ from a Triumph Hurdle he’d have won ‘a minute’ but I’m not given to ringing trainers for information, never have been. Mr Appleby will not be troubled thus.

Point is Hurricane Lane, only 105 in official BHA ratings, ticks enough boxes and in seven days I’ll not bore you with an elongated missive about the runners, if he’s declared!

Three strong, scrutinised selections for ‘Super-Saturday’ which for the most part is difficult; Richard Hannon could well have two across-the-card winners.  

Selections, Chester, 2.05 Tacitus (e.w); Catterick, 5.25 Lexington Liberty (e.w); Salisbury, 7.15 Escape (e.w).

 Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019