Racing: Snow Ridge odds cut after sparkling run

From Nad Al Sheba to Newmarket it was racing's opening reality check of the season yesterday. Some reputations were enhanced, some punctured and others created as the Classic markets got their first serious juggle.

From Nad Al Sheba to Newmarket it was racing's opening reality check of the season yesterday. Some reputations were enhanced, some punctured and others created as the Classic markets got their first serious juggle.

The most serious fluctuation involved last season's Royal Lodge winner, Snow Ridge, who is now down to 12-1 for the 2,000 Guineas after a thrilling effort in the Godolphin trials.

The mount of Frankie Dettori was nursed around at the rear before sprinting clear of a field which included fellow Classic aspirants Duke Of Venice, Bayeux, Byron and Golden Sahara. "He has been working brilliantly and is improving all the time," Saeed Bin Suroor, the trainer, said. "Tonight he has demonstrated just how much he has improved and he was clearly a different class to the others."

There was Maktoum success also at Newmarket, where Iqte Saab, who was second to Snow Ridge at Kempton last season, won in similar fashion. John Dunlop's flashy colt found a fleshy wall in front of him a furlong out, but was irresistible once he found a gap. His high-kicking, Tiller girl action soon took him three lengths clear.

The clue had been in the suits. Sheikh Hamdan and his retinue were on hand to witness a victory which prompted Ladbrokes to go 16-1 for the Guineas. The air is now thick with balls for the owner. Sheikh Hamdan also has Haafhd (Barry Hills), Mukafeh (Dunlop) and So Will I (Marcus Tregoning) to consider for the first Classic and the last two are likely to display their qualifications in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

Dunlop was equivocal about Iqte Saab's success. "The problem is that the form is absolutely valueless," he said, "but he's a nice horse and it was a very impressive performance in a slowly run race. He quickened very well and he couldn't have done any more."

The shuffling in the Derby market initially concerned Jeremy Noseda's Ecomium, who used the vehicle of the opening maiden to earn a quote of 33-1 from Victor Chandler for Epsom. He looked good, just as he has done on the gallops at Headquarters this spring. "He's worked like a horse who's well above average," Noseda said. "He's always shown plenty at home, but it's nice to see him get to the racetrack and do it."

The Glasgow Stakes at York is probably next stop for Ecomium, while fellow maiden winner Percussionist will also be travelling north on the Blue Riband trail. The son of Sadler's Wells was less impressive but more poignant, as he carried the colours of Robert Sangster.

"I went to watch the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Robert in hospital and we talked about this horse," John Gosden, the winning trainer, reported. "We said that if he won here we'd go on to the Chester Vase because Chester was his favourite meeting.

"He wants to learn more, this horse, and they have to learn quickly round there or they're in trouble. He's backward in his coat but he's a progressive sort and he'll come on a lot. He's just got to learn to sharpen. When the seagulls come over at home he's the one that likes to look at them. He's a dreamer."

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