Racing: Champion Stakes may be Sakhee's next target

Arc winner likely to miss both Breeders' Cup and defence of Longchamp crown as Bin Suroor sets his sights on Newmarket return

THE BULLET marks for yesterday's racing largely concerned John O'Groats's win in the Ayr Silver Cup and success further south for Zafeen in Newbury's Mill Reef Stakes, yet the major news concerned a horse who more than most can actually move as if propelled from a gun barrel.

The bullet marks for yesterday's racing largely concerned John O'Groats's win in the Ayr Silver Cup and success further south for Zafeen in Newbury's Mill Reef Stakes, yet the major news concerned a horse who more than most can actually move as if propelled from a gun barrel.

It had seemed that a requiem was needed for the career of Sakhee, perhaps the best horse in the world last year and about the most disappointing this time around. The Godolphin spearhead made his European reappearance in a Group Three event in France last month but lost out to Wellbeing. Since then there has been nothing, save for concern about his lethargy on the Newmarket gallops.

Now, it seems, all is sunshine. Finally, the five-year-old has remembered his job is being a racehorse. "He worked yesterday with a lead horse and is doing very well," Saeed Bin Suroor, the trainer, reported. "The last two days he has been a different horse. We have to give him time."

Proof totally positive will come only when Sakhee is returned to the racecourse and it appears that moment will not be in the course of trying to win a second consecutive Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. "I would like to run him in the Champion Stakes [at Newmarket]," Bin Suroor added, which would also remove Sakhee from Breeders' Cup considerations.

They run what is referred to as the Arc Trial at Newbury this afternoon, which is something of a misnomer as none of the six contestants will run in the great race. Not this year. Not any year.

The Listed contest does however feature the comeback of Rapscallion, the winner of four of his six juvenile starts, including the Horris Hill Stakes over this course. He has run just once this season, when 21st and next to last in the 2,000 Guineas.

Now James Eustace's runner steps up to 11 furlongs for the first time. "We have always thought of him as a middle distance horse as a three-year-old," the Newmarket trainer said yesterday. "After this there's a nine-furlong Listed race at Newmarket in October [the Darley Stakes] that we could go for or a mile-and-a-quarter Listed [the James Seymour Stakes] at the beginning of November, so we'll have a look unless he tells us on Saturday that he needs farther."

Today then sounds like something of a reconnaissance mission and we should leave Rapscallion alone and concentrate instead on Bustan (3.05), who runs here in preference to Ayr and was only half a length behind Bollin Eric in the Great Voltigeur at York.

Also worthy of consideration at the Berkshire track is Agnetha (2.35), who has been sent over from Dermot Weld's white-hot Irish yard.

There are some long distance travellers also to Ayr, where John Dunlop has a good record, not surprisingly really when you consider how much petrol he has to pay for. The Arundel trainer's Medeena (1.45) looks an attractive proposition to continue the run. The good to soft ground will be of no inconvenience to Island House (2.15), who won this race, the Doonside Cup, two years ago, while Tony Tie (next best 2.50) is another who has already succeeded in these environs.

The event which will keep the cashiers busiest though is the Ayr Gold Cup, an event which has found its way back to the Thirsk yard of David Nicholls in the past two years following the exploits of Continent and Bahamian Pirate. The best of Dandy's four-ball this afternoon is Funfair Wane, the property of Jean Keegan. She would really love to win it.

There will be those hoping for bus syndrome and backing Halmahera, whose first success for three years came recently in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster. However, he cannot beat a real live prospect in Injaaz on Town Moor running.

The third horse to throw in for Tricast purposes and perhaps the best qualified sprinter of the lot is CROESO CROESO (nap 4.05), who, tellingly, is the sort of fast- improving animal which usually strikes in the race. The John Spearing-trained filly, whose name means "Welcome Welcome" in Welsh, would probably be going for a four-timer had she not run into Cairo-like traffic at Sandown last time.

There is sure to be a very warm reception, followed by lengthy celebrations, tonight in the Foxhunter pub in the village of Snitterfield, near Stratford-upon-Avon, if she wins as Croeso Croeso is owned and bred by Mrs Richard Evans, wife of the landlord, a former jump jockey.

It is veteran time once again on the Continent tomorrow when Yavana's Pace goes for a second Group One success in the Preis von Europa in Cologne.

The 10-year-old won for the first time at the highest level at the north German course last month and has been runner-up for the last two years in the mile-and-a-half contest, narrowly touched-off by Golden Snake two seasons ago and then by Godolphin's Kutub last year.

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