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Fate's fickle finger; Jarvis on ...

It was almost 30 years ago to the day that Michael Jarvis's Derby dream was shattered. Expectations of Shergar were high after the colt won the Sandown trial and the Chester Vase by a combined total of 22 lengths. Yet Jarvis was undeterred.

He trained the second favourite, Beldale Flutter, who had won the Dante and already held a clear verdict over Shergar from their clash in the previous season's Futurity Stakes (now Racing Post Trophy). Typically, however, Jarvis kept his counsel in the build-up.

"Then, one morning, I noticed a big kerfuffle at the bottom of the Heath and saw a horse galloping loose towards Sir Mark Prescott's yard," Jarvis recalls. "I knew straight away it was Beldale Flutter.

"When we eventually caught up with him he had cuts and bruises like you've never seen, and that was his Derby gone. He'd got rid of Jimmy Thompson, my head lad, in a collision with Moorestyle, who was then the champion sprinter [trained by Robert Armstrong]."

With Beldale Flutter nursing his wounds, Shergar galloped out to a record-breaking ten-length victory at Epsom. "I thought we had a chance of winning before the race but it would be unrealistic to think we might have beaten him," Jarvis says. "It would still have been nice to finish second, and the horse came back to win the International Stakes later in the summer."

Beldale Flutter's tribulations illustrate the randomness of fate's fickle finger. Shergar himself got loose in the Derby build-up, reportedly (although almost certainly by embellishment) galloping riderless down Newmarket High Street.

When they eventually caught up with him there was not a scratch on the charismatic bay with the distinctive blaze and four white socks. The rest, as they say ...
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 18, 2011
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