Minardi 5-2 for big Ascot sprint

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The Independent Online

Mugharreb looks set to line up in the big sprint in this weekend's Shergar Cup meeting at Ascot. The Ben Hanbury-trained colt is quoted as the 4-1 second-favourite for the six-furlong, Dubai Duty Free-sponsored race by Blue Square bookmakers, who have made Aidan O'Brien's Minardi the 5-2 favourite.

"Mugharreb runs, all being well," the trainer said yesterday. "But he won't run if it gets too soft. It's the only sprint for three-year-olds at this time of year and it's worth £100,000 to boot – it's very hard taking on the older horses."

The news from the Berkshire track yesterday was good news for Hanbury. "We are still good, good to firm in places," a course spokeswoman said. "It's forecast to be dry overnight with the chance of a shower on Wednesday afternoon. The risk of showers is diminishing on Thursday, while Friday and Saturday look set to be dry."

That, however, would not be good news for Toby Balding. The Fyfield trainer is hoping for rain before committing his two possibles, Bomb Alaska (Shergar Cup Mile) and Palace Affair (Shergar Cup Distaff). Both are far more effective on ground with some ease in it. "They are possibles rather than probables at this stage," Balding said.

Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint (Blue Square betting): 5-2 Minardi, 4-1 Mugharreb (from 9-2), 9-2 Hurricane Floyd, 6-1 Volata, 10-1 Orientor, Jentzen, Rasoum, 12-1 Autumnal, Juniper, Pan Jammer, 14-1 others. ILPH Shergar Cup Mile (Blue Square betting): 9-2 Persiano, Brilliant Red, 11-2 Smart Ridge, 6-1 Gallant, 7-1 J R Stevenson, Jedeydd, 8-1 Calcutta, Highland Reel, 10-1 Bold King, Ice, Bomb Alaska, Ferzao, 12-1 others

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