Noverre makes Bad look good

The Godolphin two-year-old academy at Evry has not been a roaring success by anyone's standards, particularly those of Godolphin itself, which is more accustomed to experiments which work. Even David Loder, the man in charge, has not escaped the hex, having recently been hospitalised by an aggressive viral infection. Loder is now recovering, however, and so are the fortunes of Godolphin's young generation, if Noverre's victory in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster yesterday is any guide.

The Godolphin two-year-old academy at Evry has not been a roaring success by anyone's standards, particularly those of Godolphin itself, which is more accustomed to experiments which work. Even David Loder, the man in charge, has not escaped the hex, having recently been hospitalised by an aggressive viral infection. Loder is now recovering, however, and so are the fortunes of Godolphin's young generation, if Noverre's victory in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster yesterday is any guide.

The rather lacklustre form of Loder's string is probably the reason why Noverre set off at 7-2 yesterday, since his previous form included victory in the July Stakes at Newmarket, and a third place on desperate ground in the Prix Morny at Deauville. The punters went instead for Ghayth, who won the Convivial Maiden Stakes at York, and Chianti, a talking horse from John Dunlop's yard.

Both colts managed to make the frame, but only in a dead-heat for third place, for while both were in a potentially winning position a furlong out, neither could match the finishing kick of Noverre and Frankie Dettori on the stands side. Cd Europe, unraced since winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, was a promising second, despite looking beforehand as if the race would be needed.

Diana Cooper, Godolphin's French racing manager, said: "He enjoyed the seven furlongs today and he's bred to get an extra furlong without any problem. We're still hopeful he's got another couple of races in him this season to see what his owners want to do with him."

One of those races could be the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, while there were also the inevitable quotes afterwards for next season's 2,000 Guineas. Victor Chandler was the most impressed, offering just 16-1 for the Classic, but William Hill show 25-1, and Godolphin may prove to have a better Guineas candidate by next spring

The happiest trainer after yesterday's race, though, was probably Brian Meehan, whose Bad As I Wanna Be beat the field in the Morny, Noverre included, by six lengths. Meehan's colt may have had the run of the race on ground which exaggerated his superiority, but even so, he is clearly a colt with Classic potential.

Dettori said: "We gave the winner a couple of lengths start in the Morny, but nevertheless, in the last 100 yards he took off and left us. Even though our horse has run a lot better today, any horse who runs one minute 10 and wins by six lengths on the bridle, you've got to respect wherever he goes."

Surprisingly, Bad As I Wanna Be is the same price for the Guineas, 25-1, as the colt he thumped at Deauville. The worry for Meehan, of course, is that Godolphin, who have already snapped up the two-year-olds Rumpold and Celtic Silence after impressive performances this year, may come calling on Bad As I Wanna Be's owners. If Bad As I Wanna Be is 25-1 to win the Guineas, he is possibly only 50-1 to do so in Godolphin blue.

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