Racing: Testing time for Fallon and North Light
Tuesday 21 September 2004
Education is the priority at Newmarket today with four large fields of tender juveniles getting some valuable experience down the broad plains of the Rowley Mile and North Light out to demonstrate his wellbeing in a spin on the track between races.
Education is the priority at Newmarket today with four large fields of tender juveniles getting some valuable experience down the broad plains of the Rowley Mile and North Light out to demonstrate his wellbeing in a spin on the track between races. As a sideshow, Kieren Fallon again attempts to shake off Frankie Dettori in the tussle for the jockeys' championship, with Seb Sanders still in touch with the leading pair should either slip up or off.
North Light was again well supported yesterday for next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and there is a fine opportunity today to see if that faith was well placed or merely a response to doubts about other leading contenders. Sir Michael Stoute's colt will have a spin at Headquarters with Fallon on board at 3pm, between the second and third races.
The Derby winner, who has been absent since finishing second to Grey Swallow in the Irish equivalent in June, will work over nine furlongs with a stable companion.
Yesterday, Coral cut North Light to 5-1 from 6-1 for the Longchamp race, having been offering him at 8-1 on Sunday. "Serious punters are putting serious money on North Light to win the Arc," Coral's spokesman, Simon Clare, said.
Ladbrokes and William Hill quote Sulamani as their 4-1 favourite "with a run" after suggestions that all is not well with the Godolphin horse. The five-year-old was reported to be "a bit quiet" following his win in the International at York last month. However, Saeed bin Suroor, his trainer, remains hopeful that he will be among their Longchamp team. "He's back in training and he's trained well. I'm happy so far," Bin Suroor said. "If we're happy then we'll take him to the Arc.
"We'll keep our options open. We've also got Doyen and Mamool. Our horses are ready to go, but with Sulamani we will have to see."
Another whose participation is in question is last year's runner-up, Mubtaker, who disappointed behind Warrsan in Germany on his latest start. His trainer, Marcus Tregoning, said: "I will have a word with Sheikh Hamdan in the next few days. We'll leave it late to see what the ground is going to be like."
The dual Oaks winner Ouija Board could also make the Arc. The Prix de l'Opera had been thought a more likely target in France but connections are now leaning towards tackling the main prize. "The Arc trials were inconclusive and the owner is keen to have a go, but it will depend on the ground," her trainer, Ed Dunlop, said. "She's been entered for the Flower Bowl International at Belmont Park as well. It's on the same weekend as the Arc and if the ground came up very soft at Longchamp we would give it serious consideration.
"If it's decent ground we are more than likely to go for the Arc. If we chose not to go to America and stay on slow ground to run in France we will probably then revert to the Prix de l'Opera.
Dunlop said that several jockeys had inquired about the mount should Ouija Board run in the Arc. "If she runs in the Opera, Kieren [Fallon] may be available. If we run in the Arc we'll have to look elsewhere."
Dettori and Fallon meanwhile start the day level at the top of the jockeys' title race after having a winner apiece at Kempton yesterday while Seb Sanders rode a double at Chepstow. Dettori and Sanders have a full book of six rides at Newmarket today, while Fallon has four booked mounts.
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