Downpours put Pipalong in line for promotion

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When Nuclear Debate left tramlines of fire in his wake in York's Nunthorpe Stakes nine days ago it appeared that the title of Europe's champion sprinter had been decided.

When Nuclear Debate left tramlines of fire in his wake in York's Nunthorpe Stakes nine days ago it appeared that the title of Europe's champion sprinter had been decided.

Yet, there is another chance for a pretender to the throne to emerge today at Haydock, where we can at least be sure there will be no ignition of the turf. Inclement weather has arrived at Newton le Willows, as it often seems to at this time of year, for the last British leg of the speedsters' championship and, if racing is allowed to take place after an inspection this morning, this will no doubt have a considerable effect on the result of the race.

Godolphin won this race last year with Diktat but the prospect of them doing so again and improving on what has been a shabby Group One record by their standards in Britain this year may have been washed away. Frankie Dettori, Team Dubai's contracted rider, has been jocked up on Lend A Hand, who may well be the best horse in the race but he is certainly not when soft ground is around. He might not even run. His Prix Maurice de Gheest conqueror, Bold Edge, also appears to be compromised by the going.

There is no Ajdal, Dayjur, or Sheikh Albadou in the race this year, no horse to whom opponents and spectators need to bow, but there are certainly dogged animals deserving of their day, metaphorically at least, in the sun. Lincoln Dancer, the favourite is one. He carries the distinction of a course-and-distance victory earlier in the season on ground much the same as this, albeit in Listed company.

Michael Jarvis's runner would already be a Group One winner were it not for Japan's recent equine expansionism. Agnes World beat him in the July Cup at Newmarket, but by only the minimum margin at the end of Lincoln Dancer's first venture into sprinting pattern-race company.

There were further extenuating circumstances. Lincoln Dancer returned with cuts to his off-hind, having hit the pocket of interference that was caused largely by Godolphin's Lend A Hand and Bertolini coming together (it has been that kind of year for them). Indeed, you could fancy the favourite greatly if it were not for his draw in the number five stall.

Middle to high numbers traditionally fare well at Haydock when the stalls are on the stands side. This factor brings us to PIPALONG (nap 3.00), who was another short-head behind Lincoln Dancer at Newmarket and who filled a similar position behind Nuclear Debate in the Nunthorpe. She goes on the ground and goes on this course and is due a reward for her hardiness.

Channel 4 carries its usual makeweight card, on this occasion from Thirsk, but there is at least an interesting race for the Morning Line team to get their teeth into in the shape of the September Stakes at their main Kempton meeting. Pawn Broker has a good chance in the Group Three contest. David Elsworth's colt was twice close to the Derby runner-up Sakhee this spring but has not run since a stinker in the Prix du Jockey Club.

Alva Glen (next best 3.45), on the other hand, has recent form to burn and this will be his third race in 11 days. After a sixth in the Ebor he stepped up to Listed class successfully in the March Stakes at Goodwood last Saturday. He can cope with another elevation on that form.

Tomorrow presents an early opportunity for our horse-racing folk to strike back in the land of the beastly fishermen. Over half the field in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp will come from British territorial waters, and they will face, not unexpectedly, a determined barrage. André Fabre's Dansili has already shown on this side of the Channel that he is no mean customer and, with Dubai Millennium and King's Best now out of the way, Sendawar, who is trained by Alain de Royer-Dupré, is possibly the best miler in Europe.

The visitors, however, are in the main a scavenging party with place money perhaps the principal driver. Diktat has not resembled the force of old this season, but he is still likely to finish ahead of stablemate Fly To The Stars, Indian Lodge (Amanda Perrett), Golden Silca (Mick Channon) and Sugarfoot (Nigel Tinkler).

Jarvis's Holding Court and Fruits Of Love, who is trained by Mark Johnston, have been actually affected by the Calais strike and now travel to Germany by plane rather than ferry in the company of Daliapour and Mutafaweq for tomorrow's Grosser Preis von Baden, the richest prize in Germany's racing history. It looks as if the home team's Andreas Schutz has already got his towel down in the winner's enclosure, with Samum out to continue an unbeaten run which includes the Deutches Derby.

In Ireland, Aidan O'Brien saddles five in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes. With Michael Kinane serving a suspension, George Duffield partners Imagine, who looks the best of O'Brien's block booking.

All this may be to no avail though if Hotelgenie Dot Com, one of Britain's two runners, comes up to expectation. Mick Channon's filly is joined by Stage Presence, who is trained by Barry Hills and owned by Robert Sangster, whom we do not hear about much these days but was the main man when Channon was still in shorts.

* BBC2 will show recordings of the main races from the Curragh, Longchamp and Baden-Baden in Sunday Grandstand.