Racing: Perfections is flawless in rehearsal for Guineas

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The Independent Online

Depending on preferences this is either the week when you dust down your lightweight suit – checking the pockets optimistically for ante-post slips – and rub your hands together at the return of real racing, Flat racing, and the Classic trials at Newbury or you cling to the knowledge that there are still a few big days left in the jump season, starting with Saturday's Scottish Grand National.

Depending on preferences this is either the week when you dust down your lightweight suit – checking the pockets optimistically for ante-post slips – and rub your hands together at the return of real racing, Flat racing, and the Classic trials at Newbury or you cling to the knowledge that there are still a few big days left in the jump season, starting with Saturday's Scottish Grand National.

The Flat brigade have started the week in style with bookmakers reacting, or should that be over-reacting to the success of Six Perfections in the Prix Imprudence at Maisons-Laffitte by promoting her to the head of the betting on the 1,000 Guineas.

It would be easy to have overlooked Six Perfections last year as she did not race outside France, winning twice at Deauville in the summer before collecting the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac.

On the plus side, she extended her winning sequence to four on the bridle, comes from the team of trainer Pascal Bary and jockey Thierry Thulliez whose big-race expertise includes a win in the Prix du Jockey-Club with Sulamani and that Breeders' Cup Mile defeat of Rock Of Gibraltar with Domedriver. The filly comes from the family of Miesque, who won the Newmarket Classic in the same Niarchos colours in 1987.

Her breeding also suggests caution, though, as she is by Celtic Swing, who was at his best with give in the ground and she has yet to encounter firm going. Also, she is a probable, but not a definite for the Newmarket race and has the French equivalent, the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches as an alternative. Nevertheless, she is now 3-1 favourite with Coral, William Hill and Ladbrokes for the 1,000 Guineas on 4 May.

"It is the first time I have had one good enough to go [to Newmarket]," Bary said, "and I am not against the idea."

Jean-Claude Rouget's Mister Charm paid a compliment to the Derby entry Dalakhani in the Prix Djebel. Mister Charm was second to the Aga Khan's colt in Group Three company in September but is not entered in the 2,000 Guineas.

This weekend's Classic trials at Newbury, Thirsk and Leopardstown have attracted some of last season's leading juveniles. Elusive City, winner of the Prix Morny and the Dewhurst Stakes third Trade Fair are among Greenham Stakes entries, while the Jeremy Noseda-trained, Guineas-bound Cassis returns in the Fred Darling Stakes. Thirsk's Classic Trial, won last year by Mick Channon's Guineas sixth Aramram, has attracted the trainer's Illustria and Roskilde.

On Sunday, Dermot Weld's unbeaten Refuse To Bend tackles the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial, a Listed event over a mile.

Shotgun Willy, pulled up in Saturday's Grand National, has, rather surprisingly been declared for the Scottish version at Ayr but is very likely to miss the race, according to his owner, Graham Roach. If he defects then the weights will go up by 16lb, with Stormez heading the handicap.

"I think he needs a bit of a prod these days and we may put blinkers on him," Roach said, revealing that Shotgun Willy, the 7-1 favourite at Aintree, had not bled from the nose as his rider, Ruby Walsh, had believed. "Ruby was sprayed with blood jumping the 21st fence, thought the horse had broken a blood vessel and put on the brakes. He was in eighth place at the time and, on reflection, if he had carried on he may have been in the frame. Our problems began at the start when instead of jumping off smartly he backed off."

1,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 4 May) Coral: 3-1 Six Perfections, 9-2 Soviet Song, 5-1 Russian Rhythm, 12-1 Intercontinental, Mezzo Soprano, 16-1 Khulood, Hi Dubai, 20-1 others. William Hill: 3-1 Six Perfections, 4-1 Soviet Song, 9-2 Russian Rhythm, 12-1 Intercontinental, 14-1 Mezzo Soprano, 16-1 Hi Dubai, Khulood, 20-1 others. Ladbrokes: 3-1 Six Perfections, 4-1 Soviet Song, 9-2 Russian Rhythm, 12-1 Intercontinental, 14-1 Mezzo Soprano, 16-1 Etoile Montante, 20-1 others.

Whip ban for Ahern

RSPCA eyes trained on the Grand National on Saturday would have been pleased with the zeal with which the stewards applied the rules against excessive whipping yesterday.

In a rash of rule-breaking, Eddie Ahern was the most high-profile culprit and will miss the second and third days of the Craven meeting at Newmarket next week for his use of the whip on the short-head Windsor winner Palamedes.

Jason Tate was banned for the same days having used his whip with excessive frequency on Yorker, fifth in the finale. At Southwell, Matthew Henry's seven-day ban for the same offence on the winner Kirkham Abbey will include the lucrative Easter Holiday programme.

Peter Easterby saddled a 23-1 treble for his son Tim at Kelso yesterday. The former champion jumps trainer, who acts as assistant to his son, said: "This is the first time I've been here since the year Freebooter won the Grand National [1950]. I couldn't have had a better day. I've certainly had a lot of worse ones and the hospitality has been fantastic."

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