Racing: Aquarelliste and Gossamer send entrancing messages

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The Independent Online

On the entire day that now constitutes the National Hunt close season, the rather more delicate creatures that inhabit the rarified world of Flat racing had the arena to themselves and came up with a couple of performances to stir the blood and, more pertinently, the imagination. There may be very little substance to the gallops display of Gossamer or the narrow racecourse success of Aquarelliste, but both caused a flutter of excitement.

On the entire day that now constitutes the National Hunt close season, the rather more delicate creatures that inhabit the rarified world of Flat racing had the arena to themselves and came up with a couple of performances to stir the blood and, more pertinently, the imagination. There may be very little substance to the gallops display of Gossamer or the narrow racecourse success of Aquarelliste, but both caused a flutter of excitement.

Gossamer's appearance in fact came on Saturday, when she worked well at Newmarket. The aftermath yesterday, though, was that having ruminated on the good-paced seven-furlong spin some observers and their confidants wanted to dip into their pockets and take the 11-4 on offer with Coral for Sunday's 1,000 Guineas. That firm trimmed her to 5-2 second favourite behind Queen's Logic and are now in line with the other major bookmakers.

Jamie Spencer, who takes the ride in the 1,000, was on board the unbeaten daughter of Sadler's Wells and her trainer, Luca Cumani, was highly satisfied with her display.

"The weather has been quite kind and she has come on nicely," Cumani said, "and everything has gone according to plan . . . so far. There are still eight days to go."

With unsettled weather forecast, the Bedford House trainer is not too concerned about underfoot conditions for his charge. "She's won on a fast surface and on soft at Ascot and she's done most of her work on fast ground."

Some betting interest has also been shown in Sir Michael Stoute's Alasha and William Hill now have her on offer at 11-1 from 12-1.

On the 2,000 Guineas front, Mark Johnston's Love Regardless, winner of a Newcastle maiden on his only start, galloped at Ripon yesterday under his big-race rider, Kevin Darley.

"He came on fine this morning," Johnston said. "We were very happy we took him. He still had a blow after it so he needed it. Everything is on target."

There were some hints in the betting about the likely composition and capability of the Aidan O'Brien team for the 2,000. Hills and Ladbrokes reported interest in Sir Alex Ferguson's Rock Of Gibraltar. The former have him at 10-1 from 14-1 after some good support, while Ladbrokes are offering 8-1 – not much longer than Coral's 5-1 odds about Ferguson's Manchester United pulling off a Premiership miracle or the 4-1 about them lifting the European Cup.

Fellow O'Brien inmate Tendulkar has been clipped to 12-1 from 14-1 with Hills but the stable's first string, Hawk Wing, remains a solid favourite.

The standard that Hawk Wing, Gossamer and the rest of the Classic crop must aim at was set by Aquarelliste at Longchamp yesterday when last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up returned with a sparkling win in the Group One Prix Ganay.

Her owner, Alec Wildenstein, last year compared Aquarelliste to the best filly to run in the family colours, Allez France, and he saw nothing yesterday to make him retract. "I couldn't be more pleased with her," he said. "She looks a real champion. Look at how she's grown, an inch and a quarter over the winter, she stands out against the four-year-old colts today."

Aquarelliste is unlikely to travel for the Coronation Cup and the first chance British racegoers will have to see her may be at Ascot in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in July.

2,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, Saturday) Coral: 6-4 Hawk Wing, 7-2 King Of Happiness, 8-1 Love Regardless, Naheef, 12-1 Rock Of Gibraltar, 14-1 Tendulkar, 16-1 others.

William Hill: 6-4 Hawk Wing, 7-2 King Of Happiness, 7-1 Love Regardless, 7-1 Naheef, 12-1 Tendulkar, 10-1 Rock Of Gibraltar, 16-1 others.

Ladbrokes: 6-4 Hawk Wing, 3-1 King Of Happiness, 7-1 Naheef, 8-1 Love Regardless, Rock Of Gibraltar, 12-1 Tendulkar, 16-1 others.

1,000 GUINEAS (Newmaarket, Sunday) Coral: 13-8 Queen's Logic, 5-2 Gossamer, 9-1 Alasha, 11-1 Quarter Moon, 16-1 others.

William Hill: 13-8 Queen's Logic, 5-2 Gossamer, 8-1 Quarter Moon, 11-1 Alasha, 16-1 Kazzia, Misterah, 20-1 others.

Ladbrokes: 13-8 Queen's Logic, 5-2 Gossamer, 10-1 Alasha, 12-1 Quarter Moon, 14-1 Maryinsky, 20-1 Glia, Kazzia, Lahinch, Sophisticat, Misterah, Kournakova, 25-1 others.

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