Racing: David Junior at right trip to redeem reputation

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The Independent Online

When Brian Meehan elected to start him off in the 2,000 Guineas, after two starts in maidens last year, the scale of his task was measured by a starting price of 100-1. Sure enough, David Junior could manage no better than 11th place, but he was beaten barely five lengths despite meeting traffic at a crucial stage. Down in class and up in distance, he confirmed a formidable talent to win listed races over 10 furlongs at Newmarket at Sandown, by eight and five lengths.

Restored to the élite over a mile at Goodwood, however, he once again had his ego bruised, finishing seventh behind Proclamation in the Sussex Stakes. But it is easy to indulge David Junior, who was racing on soft ground for the first time and became embroiled in a hectic gallop over what is likely to prove an inadequate trip. And it is extremely tempting to seek a profit from this pardon when David Junior (2.15) meets just four rivals for the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock today. Back over 10 furlongs on fast ground, he sets his rivals a very demanding standard - not least because the least exposed of them, Perfectperformance, has not run since the Dewhurst Stakes last autumn.

The one caveat, however, is a fairly grave one. David Junior has had only 10 days to recover, but Meehan said: "He didn't have too hard a time once Richard [Hills] saw the race wasn't right for him. He is in tremendous form and I'd have to be very confident."

The other Group race this afternoon is at Newmarket, where the Sweet Solera Stakes offers Seb Sanders the chance to maintain his challenge for the jockeys' title with Confidential Lady. While Sanders and Sir Mark Prescott are making hay with three-year-olds - not only well ahead of their own handicap marks, but also running against rivals who have already shown their hand - they have also had a fair time with their more precocious horses. Confidential Lady confirmed herself a highly professional, committed galloper when making all in a listed race at Sandown last time. But Nasheej (2.50) is definitely entitled to reverse the form: she was hampered before finishing well at Sandown, while the penalised winner has so far been able to dominate round turning tracks.

Nasheej could conceivably develop into a Guineas filly and such distant dreams may also become more tangible at the Curragh tomorrow. After an impudent interruption from David Wachman and Damson last year, Aidan O'Brien will be hoping to resume business as usual in the Group One Phoenix Stakes, a race he had previously won for six consecutive years. His principal representative here is George Washington, a seven-figure yearling by Danehill who is already favourite for the 2,000 Guineas after his Group Two success over course and distance.

Over at Deauville, meanwhile, British raiders account for a majority of the 13 runners in another Group One prize tomorrow. Somnus, who won the race last year, heads a raiding party of seven in the Prix Maurice de Gheest over six-and-a- half furlongs.

The domestic weekend is more about quantity than quality, with some pretty tangled handicaps to unravel on television today. Caribbean Coral (1.45) raced too freely in a visor in the Stewards' Cup last week, but has repeatedly shaped with promise and is tried in cheekpieces at Haydock.

One Putra (2.35) ran a blinder to lead them home on the stands' side at Goodwood and can confirm himself a young sprinter going places at Windsor, while Sea Storm (3.15) will be hard to beat in the big race at Redcar. He was back to his very best when bolting up at Ayr last time, but still remains on a fair mark.

Tote Scoop6 Races: Leg 1 1.00 Redcar; Leg 2 1.50 Newmarket; Leg 3 2.20 Newmarket; Leg 4 2.50 Newmarket; Leg 5 3.15 Redcar; Leg 6 3.25 Newmarket. Win Fund: £290,914. Bonus Fund: £124,677.

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Kindlelight Delight (Newmarket 2.20)

NB: Confidential Lady (Newmarket 2.50)

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