Racing: Colori can outshine dangerous rival Rakti

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The Independent Online

Horseboxes and security vans will descend on Newbury this afternoon for a Lockinge Stakes which features two of the most considerable nutcases in European racing.

Horseboxes and security vans will descend on Newbury this afternoon for a Lockinge Stakes which features two of the most considerable nutcases in European racing.

Antonius Pius is the bonkers horses' bonkers horse, a colt who will stop at nothing to avoid winning a race. In the French 2,000 Guineas last season, Aidan O'Brien's colt was on the verge of victory when he decided the preferred option was to swerve right and collide with the running rail.

In the Breeders' Cup Mile in Texas, they were preparing the laurels for his head when Antonius Pius ducked in behind Singletary. Now this complicated project gets passed, for the first time, to Kieren Fallon.

Almost as eccentric, and even more talented than Antonius Pius, is today's favourite, Rakti. The now six-year-old would make a particularly poor politician. His inclination is not to kiss babies, rather to eat them, and the years have not mellowed him. Michael Jarvis reports that Rakti remains the volatile beast of seasons past, a horse which tries to devour anything which enters his premises.

Rakti takes his bullying tendency to the racecourse and it has a varying effect. At his best, he is so pumped up that he simply bolts away from his field. On other occasions, he runs himself into the dirt.

"He is just the same as he was last year," Jarvis reported yesterday. "He tends to boil over when he gets to the races. It's all in his mind and it's not something we will ever get out. You just have to manage it."

The principal problem for the hotheads is that the Lockinge is conducted over a straight mile and there is no place to hide, no bend or rail to concentrate those with wandering minds.

In the circumstances, in this potential theatre for the absurd, it could be the opportunity for a stalwart to pinch a Group One. Elvestroem brings with him appealing qualities from the Antipodes as he attempts to put down a marker for sporting Australian visitors this summer, but it is a runner which has also made his name in a different land which appeals most.

The ex-Italian Le Vie Dei Colori is now with Luca Cumani and was campaigned in substantial company last year. This season began rather more sedately in victory at Leicester and Le Vie Dei Colori (next best 2.40) can now be sent into the fray with confidence fully restored.

In the preceding Aston Park Stakes there are reasons to be cheerful about the course winner DUBAI SUCCESS (nap 2.10). Barry Hills's runner steps down in class to Listed level from Group Three company and the form of his third in the Sagaro Stakes took on a rosy hue yesterday when the runner-up, Franklins Gardens, collected the Yorkshire Cup.

Another notable foreign athlete steps out at Sha Tin this morning in Silent Witness, and there will be fires in the streets of Hong Kong if the local horse cannot extend his winning run to 18 in the Champions Mile. This, however, represents the gelding's most strenuous task yet as he goes up against the trip of a mile for the first time and the meaningful opposition of Mark Johnston's Attraction.

The round of European Guineas continues tomorrow in the Bois de Boulogne. The Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) looks less a Classic than a gift for the home filly Divine Proportions, who is unbeaten in six races. Her opposition is thin both in ability and numbers.

The colts' version, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, is more interesting, with a slew of British runners taking on home forces. Most intriguing is the return of Godolphin's Shamardal, the top two-year-old in Europe when with Mark Johnston last season. Shamardal was a Kentucky Derby horse before he ran in the UAE Derby in March, but a turkey as he crossed the line.

Of the passport-holders, the best could be Indesatchel, who has been supplemented at a cost of 24,000 euro by David Wachman. The Irish trainer will not even have to incur currency-exchange costs.

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Dubai Success (Newbury 2.10)

NB: Le Vie Dei Colori

(Newbury 2.40)