Dunlop can roll on

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This is the season of racehorses acting like courtiers, passing on compliments to their masters. Diffident, Pennekamp's work companion on the Chantilly gallops, flattered his better-known stablemate with victory in the Free Handicap yesterday and another encouraging message should come this afternoon in the Craven Stakes.

By close of play, Pennekamp may be in danger of becoming quite a big- head because the 2,000 Guineas aspirant's form is advertised today by the well-fancied Montjoy, who finished second to the French horse in the Prix de la Salamandre last season.

However, Pennekamp could also be demeaned in the same race as the merit of his main challenger on the slow-train side of the Channel tunnel, Celtic Swing, will also be shown by the performance of Chilly Billy. Linda Ramsden's colt suffered an admittedly poor run when behind Celtic Swing at Ayr last July, but would nevertheless have been a clear second best.

Victory for Chilly Billy would also alter the perception of Kieran Fallon, who would have looked a sorry figure if punters had got to him after an injudicious ride on Top Cees on Tuesday. Bad publicity has been a dogged companion for the jockey who was banned for six months for hauling a fellow rider out of the saddle last season, but the cloth will be applied to his slate if he can succeed today.

There are, though, others to consider, notably NWAAMIS (nap 3.40), who trains on the same Sussex downs as Celtic Swing. He is from the dazzlingly in- form John Dunlop stable.

The stables who are unusually badly represented are those situated locally. Of the thousands of horses based in Newmarket, only Traikey, from the littleheralded yard of Jack Banks, takes his chance. His form suggests he should at least beat Painter's Row, though the latter's trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam, is not without hope. "I'm more behind this year than normal and my horse will need the run," he said. "But he's started to come to himself and he'll still run very well. He'll get very close."

The same will have to apply to Charnwood Forest in the opening Granby Maiden Stakes if Henry Cecil's colt is to have any pretension of challenging for the Guineas. Another promising Newmarket colt, Flemensfirth, is plopped into Listed company in the Feilden Stakes on only his second start, and will struggle to match the relatively grizzled Eltish. Citadeed's display in the Free Handicap was enough to book his place in the Kentucky Derby, and if Eltish is to walk up the gangway with him he will have to perform with distinction.