Racing: Redback ready to fall in with Hannon routine

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The Independent Online

Trends can be misleading, if you are talking of the type that people blindly follow to pick lottery numbers. Figures and chance, after all, have no memory and even if a coin has spun heads 50 times in succession there is no reason to bet against it doing so again. Or not, as the case may be.

But trends in racing can work to the benefit of punters. When a man makes a habit of winning a certain race, it is reasonable to assume that he knows the measure of horse required and is able to regularly produce one of commensurate ability, Richard Hannon and the Easter Stakes being a case in point. In the past 10 years he has produced the winner on five occasions and his four other runners have yielded two second places and a third.

The Easter Stakes, a Listed mile contest, is popularly perceived as the first of the domestic Classic trials for colts. It has, however, been something of a phoney skirmish in recent years, with the victor more likely to head for San Siro than Newmarket. Not since Hannon's first winner, Lucky Lindy, has any runner at Kempton had an impact in the 2,000 Guineas.

That 1992 edition proved rather classy all round, for not only did Lucky Lindy beat all but Rodrigo De Triano on the Rowley Mile, but the Kempton runner-up, Ezzoud, proved a top-class middle-distance operator and the third-placed Silver Wisp occupied the same position in the Derby.

It was, though, a last flourish. Since then the names of Hannon's charges are a fair indication of the decline towards mediocrity. Okay, Right Win was a fair horse, but Bluegrass Prince, Two O'Clock Jump, Regiment, Pelham, Gurkha, Wallace. Who they?

Today, however, Hannon fields a colt, Redback, who was a considerable cut above any of those as a juvenile and, given the way in which a winter on colts' backs can level the playing field and take the gloss off shining stars, a good showing this afternoon will have the master of East Eversleigh dreaming of a fourth 2,000 Guineas success, after Mon Fils, Don't Forget Me and Tirol.

Redback (3.35), a son of Mark Of Esteem, was smart and consistent last year. Since his debut last April he did nothing but improve and, after winning the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown, chased home the Ballydoyle pair High Chaparral and Castle Gandolfo in the Group One Racing Post Trophy. Even with his penalty for his Sandown win he should have the measure of today's opponents, of whom only Anna Walhaan and Halawellfin Hala hold the Classic engagement.

The fillies' trial, the Masaka Stakes, has a marginally better recent record in spotlighting talent, but it is not necessarily to the victor the ultimate spoils. Though the subsequent Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Nicer won in 1993, it is unplaced fillies in Hever Golf Rose, Spout, Sil Sila and, last year, Time Away and Tarfshi who have proved high-class in time.

Five of today's field hold a 1,000 Guineas entry, Shiny, Helen Bradley, Imoya, Rosie's Posy and Sundial. Two of the leading contenders are stablemates, Red Liason and Kootenay, both of whom promised a great deal last term, but though their yard, that of John Dunlop, has a fine record in the race, it has not made its customary all-conquering start to the season with just one victory thus far and a clutch of places that implies the inmates are needing a run. Rosie's Posy (3.05) is suggested as an alternative to Red Liason.

The major betting heat on the Kempton card, the Queen's Prize, is an appropriate bridge between the two concurrently running jump and Flat seasons. Two of the leading fancies in the two-mile handicap are a pair who have been plying their trade most recently under National Hunt rules, the four-time bumper winner Tees Components and dual winning hurdler Chicago Bulls.

Tees Components (4.10) is in tremendous form and will relish the trip, with Caqui D'Or, stepping up to this distance, the threat. He won rather cleverly over a mile and a half at Lingfield last month and a subsequent unplaced effort over seven furlongs can only come under the heading of gaining experience in public.

The grockles swarming round the West Country this Bank Holiday weekend might just have the chance to witness history made if they turn up at Newton Abbot this afternoon. Tony McCoy, who has been making heavy weather of his attempt to beat Sir Gordon Richards's all-time seasonal record of 269, set in 1947, has six mounts at the riverside course. Wins on five of them would do the trick but the champion has had 13 losing rides since he partnered Noisetine to win at Wincanton eight days ago.

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