Affair will love trip in Mallard

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The Independent Online

The Champagne Stakes is well named, since it hints at riches and a worry-free, high-living future, which is just as it should be when some of the most promising members of the young generation go head-to-head. Yet amid all the euphoria and single-figure Classic odds which will probably surround its winner this afternoon, it is also worth remembering that champagne is full of bubbles, and bubbles tend to burst.

The Champagne Stakes is well named, since it hints at riches and a worry-free, high-living future, which is just as it should be when some of the most promising members of the young generation go head-to-head. Yet amid all the euphoria and single-figure Classic odds which will probably surround its winner this afternoon, it is also worth remembering that champagne is full of bubbles, and bubbles tend to burst.

Next year's 2,000 Guineas winner may indeed be among the nine in today's race, just as Rodrigo De Triano was back in 1991. Subsequent runnings, however, have produced rather more colts whose fizz went flat at three, such as Alhaarth, Bahhare and, 12 months ago, Distant Music. However impressive today's winner might be, the statistics say that odds of less than 14-1 for the Guineas are not worth having.

The latest renewal does at least appear up to standard, though, for while only two of the runners, Cd Europe and Patsy's Double, are unbeaten, several others have shown impressive form in strong events. Ghayth won a maiden at the Ebor meeting which in hindsight often turns out to have been a Group Three in disguise, while Noverre, the July Stakes winner, was third to Bad As I Wanna Be in the Group One Prix Morny last month.

An unbeaten record is not the only thing that Cd Europe and Patsy's Double have in common. Both are, by the normal standards of juvenile Group Twos, animals from the bargain basement, having cost 20,000 and 10,000 guineas respectively. Chianti, on the other hand, cost 500,000gns, and Ghayth 300,000gns as a foal, so both Mick Channon and Michael Blanshard have a right to feel pleased with themselves.

Blanshard, meanwhile, could be happier still at 3.10 this afternoon, since Patsy's Double (next best 3.05) has the form to embarrass his big-money opponents still further. He has improved with every one of his three outings, and if he were trained by a Cecil or a Stoute, might well start favourite today. Whatever his price, it is unlikely to reflect his true chance, and punters should take advantage.

Lear Spear (3.40), third to Giant's Causeway in the International Stakes when running for the first time in five months, is back at a more realistic level in the Troy Stakes, while ROMANTIC AFFAIR (nap 2.35), a three-year-old with far more scope than most of his opponents, must go close in the MallardHandicap. There is a good opening too for Man O'Mystery (2.05), whose second place to Sobriety in the the Magnet Cup at York has been franked several times since.

There are useful performers in action at Goodwood as well, where supporters of Richard Quinn in the race for the jockeys' title will be hoping that Londoner (2.45) and Variety Shop (3.45) can hint at a change of fortune for Henry Cecil's yard. Free Option (3.15), unlucky at York last time, should also go well.

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