Racing: Shanghai Lily collects a Classic fragrance

Those who helped to propel Shanghai Lily up the 1,000 Guineas betting lists yesterday from 12-1 to 8-1 can take heart from the fact that she is regarded as easily the best of the four prospects for the first filly Classic housed in Sir Michael Stoute's yard. In fact, the way the master of Freemason Lodge was talking yesterday, she may be his only runner.

Those who helped to propel Shanghai Lily up the 1,000 Guineas betting lists yesterday from 12-1 to 8-1 can take heart from the fact that she is regarded as easily the best of the four prospects for the first filly Classic housed in Sir Michael Stoute's yard. In fact, the way the master of Freemason Lodge was talking yesterday, she may be his only runner.

On a bright Newmarket morning Shanghai Lily went through her routine Tuesday paces, two crisp canters up the steep five-furlong incline of Warren Hill. She was accompanied by Tomoohat; Echelon and Discuss exercised in different groups. But although the sun was out, the wind was still brisk, a reminder of the key factor in preparing the female of the thoroughbred species for what could be the most important day of their lives. The spring in Suffolk, where the weather can come straight from the Urals, has been cold and late, and horses have been hanging onto their winter coats and attitudes. There were only two locally-trained winners at last week's Craven meeting.

"It's been difficult for the fillies, in particular," said Stoute. "Some handle it better than others, but there have been some weeks when you've been very unhappy with all of them." Stoute is seeking his third 1,000 Guineas, after Musical Bliss in 1989 and Russian Rhythm two years ago. Shanghai Lily, a daughter of King's Best, carries the same Cheveley Park Stud colours as the last-named and has not raced since winning a seven-furlongs conditions stakes at Newbury in September. But of the stable's quartet, she has given least cause for concern, and completed yesterday's spin under Roy Carter with her ears pricked.

"She's in good form," said Stoute, "It was never the plan to give her a prep this year, we were always going to go straight to the Guineas with her. I felt she was the type that didn't need a trial two weeks before the big event, she's not a big, full-quartered very strong filly."

Echelon, by Danehill, wears the same red, white and blue silks, and although she was an encouraging third in the Fred Darling Stakes on Saturday, the vibes yesterday were not positive. "Though she nearly won it, I'd like to leave her to get some sun on her back," said Stoute. "As far as the Guineas goes, I wouldn't be backing her." Sheikh Hamdan's Tomoohat, who won a hot mixed-sex Newmarket maiden last back end (River Royale, third, and Tucker, fifth, both scored on the Rowley Mile last week), is progressing after a setback, but her Guineas participation will depend on her work this morning and on Saturday.

Another by Danzig, the once-raced Khaled Abdullah-owned Discuss, will need more time. "She's a lovely big filly, but the cold snap did set her back," said Stoute.

Progress has been smoother on the 2,000 Guineas front for the trainer, whose five previous successes, with Shadeed, Doyoun, Entrepreneur, King's Best and Golan, would indicate that he has a fair idea of what is needed.

This year's candidate Rob Roy, second favourite behind Godolphin's Dubawi after his close second place in the Craven Stakes, strode out smoothly yesterday, leading Derby entry Flag Lieutenant, six-year-old Gamut and four-year-old Quiff for seven furlongs up Long Hill. "I'd have been happier if he'd won last week," said Stoute, "but he was beaten in a messy race, not because he was in bad form. He came out of it with credit and has been going well since. But the Godolphin horse may just be different class to the ones here."

Quiff, winner of the Yorkshire Oaks and runner-up in the St Leger, will start her third season at Sandown on Saturday in the Gordon Richards Stakes. "It's only a mile and a quarter and she's got her Group One penalty," said Stoute, "but we've got to start somewhere." As exciting a prospect is North Light, the first of Stoute's four Derby winners he has trained as a four-year-old. He will start off in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh next month.

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