Dunlop can stop the Sham bandwagon with Najiya

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From the very pinnacle of racing's power structure, right down to the shop floor on the high street, a lot of people have a great deal invested in Bosra Sham, and in the space of 90 seconds at Newbury this afternoon, they will get a shrewd idea of just how large the return is likely to be.

There are the breeders and auction houses operating at the top end of the market, who would love to see the most expensive yearling of 1994 demonstrate that sometimes you really can buy success. There are the advisers - probably including Henry Cecil, her trainer - who persuaded Wafic Said that 530,000gns was not too much to pay for Hector Protector's sister. Cecil too, of course, would like to put his falling out with Sheikh Mohammed behind him and start the season with yet another Classic winner. And then there are the punters, who have spent the last three weeks propelling Bosra Sham towards odds-on for the 1,000 Guineas.

Those backers may reflect this morning that to lose one hot Classic favourite is unfortunate, but to lose another, following Alhaarth's defeat in the Craven Stakes yesterday, would be a disaster.

If the Newmarket gallops watchers are to be believed, the punters have nothing to worry about, as most will stake their reputations on Bosra Sham winning the Guineas. They are hardly betting with the world's strongest currency, however, and Bosra Sham's supporters will still approach her seasonal debut in the Fred Darling Stakes somewhat nervously.

And even if she prevails, they will check her proximiity to Najiya, trained by John Dunlop, very closely. Najiya was third, beaten five and a half lengths by Blue Duster, Bosra Sham's most serious rival in the ante-post Guineas betting, in the Cheveley Park Stakes last season. It will thus be possible to pick holes in anything but a comprehensive success.

Given Dunlop's record in this event, however, it is perfectly possible that Najiya (3.10) will not only get within striking distance of Bosra Sham, but will beat her too. Throughout her two-year-old career, it was clear that Najiya would be a much better animal at three, and with Dunlop's string in excellent form, she is definitely a value bet against the favourite.

Not that Cecil is exactly struggling for winners at present either, with his latest success being provided by Storm Trooper in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. Storm Trooper strode away from his opponents in some style, and is now no better than 20-1 for the Derby.

The success gave Pat Eddery his sixth winner of the meeting and maintained a monopoly in the race for Cecil. He was recording his fourth win in the last five years in this nine furlong Listed contest, following Twist N'Turn, Placerville and Cicerao. The Warren Place trainer also captured the prize with Legal Bid in 1987, but it must be said that none of that quartet went on to achieve high ranking so a degree of caution might be useful in assessing prospects for Storm Trooper.

After discussions yesterday evening between Cecil, the colt's owner, Fahd Salman, and the owner's racing manager, Anthony Penfold, the Classic potential of Storm Trooper will also receive an early test in the 2,000 Guineas. The colt, a regular gallops companion of Bosra Sham, is quoted at 20-1 by William Hill for the Guineas.

Lionize, a maiden winner for Peter Chapple-Hyam later in the afternoon, is another who may be a late arrival in the field for the colts' Classic, but he remains an outsider at 33-1.

Such ambitions are way beyond the reach of Galine, winner of yesterday's opening handicap, but the success was a welcome one for Bill O'Gorman, whose daughter Emma was injured in a fall at the track on Wednesday. "I think she was in pain again this morning but I don't think this will be long-term," O'Gorman said yesterday. "It is nothing horrendous."

2,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 4 May): Coral: 13-8 Alhaarth, 9-4 Beauchamp King, 6-1 Mark Of Esteem, 10-1 Royal Applause, 14-1 Danehill Dancer; Ladbrokes: 2-1 Alhaarth & Beauchamp King, 8-1 Mark Of Esteem, 10-1 Danehill Dancer & Royal Applause, 14-1 Storm Trooper; William Hill: 6-4 Alhaarth, 5-2 Beauchamp King, 10-1 Mark Of Esteem & Royal Applause, 12-1 Danehill Dancer.