Racing: Manntab suited by softer landing in Solario Stakes

In certain households this morning there will be great delight if the curtains are pulled back to reveal black skies, puddles and wet postmen. The long, hot summer has removed one of the bookmakers' advantages - that of irregular going conditions - but the recent rains mean the layers can once again flick out the talon of ground confusion. You can almost hear the cackling.

In certain households this morning there will be great delight if the curtains are pulled back to reveal black skies, puddles and wet postmen. The long, hot summer has removed one of the bookmakers' advantages ­ that of irregular going conditions ­ but the recent rains mean the layers can once again flick out the talon of ground confusion. You can almost hear the cackling.

This factor is most at work, of course, in races for two-year-olds, those young beasts which have yet to demonstrate on which terrain they prefer to run. This makes detection of the winner of this afternoon's most prestigious race in Britain, Sandown's Solario Stakes, all the more difficult.

One of the favourites for the Group Three contest is Matloob, and his trainer, Michael Jarvis, is as much in the dark as anyone about whether his Halling colt can cope with the revised conditions. "You just don't know how they'll act on it until they get on the track," the Newmarket man said yesterday. "He's fit and well and has done what's been required of him on the track, but he's not the most impressive worker at home."

Matloob most recently won a conditions race at Newbury, form which has not worked out particularly well, and it may be that others offer better value. Chinsola's winning run came to an end at Ascot in the Shergar Cup Juvenile, but Richard Hannon's colt was giving away plenty of weight. He must be in the shake-up.

The one on the surface of the mix, though, should be Manntab (3.10), who has solid form, some of it compiled on a surface which could well have been too solid for him. Certainly his second to One Cool Cat at York in June reads impressively, as that winner has gone on to Group Three success, Group One victory and, ultimately, favouritism for the 2004 2,000 Guineas.

The filly and mare race, the Atalanta Stakes, is named after the maiden who promised to marry any man who could beat her in a race. She was eventually suckered by Hippomenes, who dropped three golden apples in front of her. He must have been a bookmaker.

The fast ladies today include Echoes In Eternity (next best 2.40), who, like other Godolphin horses, is being dropped down in class in an effort to kickstart the Dubai team's season. The filly is also dropped in distance here because she has not been getting home over a mile-plus.

The other televised races at Esher are not impossible, not quite, and the ones which should have more behind than in front include Mcbain (3.45) and Not So Dusty (4.20).

Those who support Soller Bay (nap 2.55) at Chester will soon know their fate. The six-year-old is not ideally drawn, but he is in single figures, which gives him a chance of making his favoured lead.

Today's rivals True Night and Uhoomagoo were in front of Soller Bay over course and distance earlier this month, but he now enjoys a weight pull.

The quality juvenile contests of the weekend will be fought out tomorrow at Deauville and the Curragh, where Aidan O'Brien attempts to win the Moyglare Stud Stakes for the third time in four years via his twin-pronged attack of Necklace and Oh So Precious. The former is already favourite for next June's Oaks in some books.

Alan Jarvis's River Belle and Menhoubah, who is trained by Clive Brittain, carry the British standard, and one line of form suggests River Belle has decent prospects of maintaining her unbeaten record.

British trainers are responsible for half of the eight-strong field for the Group Two Flying Five. They are led by Bonus, who took the Group Three Phoenix Sprint Stakes over six furlongs earlier this month. Accompanying Richard Hannon's sprinter are the Roger Charlton-trained Deportivo, Malcolm Saunders' speedy 10-year-old Repertory and Indian Spark from Jim Goldie's Renfrewshire stable.

The two-year-old masterclass on the French coast, the Prix Morny, features a sole British challenger, Brian Meehan's Carrizo Creek. The Richmond Stakes winner is out to give Meehan a second win in this race following Bad As I Wannabe's millennium triumph.

O'Brien might be greedy and win this as well, for the fourth time, following the exploits of Orpen (1998), Fasliyev (1999) and Johannesburg (2001). He saddles three runners in the shape of Colossus (Kieren Fallon), Old Deuteronomy (Jamie Spencer) and the probable pacemaker, Haydn (Colm O'Donoghue).

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