Racing: Twilight Blues fails to illuminate the Guineas picture

Craven Meeting: Free Handicap winner remains a 40-1 chance for the first colts' Classic as Stoute's principal contender enters the fray
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There is, these days anyway, no such thing as a Free Handicap, certainly not at least in meaningful terms as a 2,000 Guineas trial. The last winner of the race to go on to Classic success was Mystiko in 1991 and the grey's place in the history books is safe following yesterday's trundle down the Dewhurst Stakes course.

There is, these days anyway, no such thing as a Free Handicap, certainly not at least in meaningful terms as a 2,000 Guineas trial. The last winner of the race to go on to Classic success was Mystiko in 1991 and the grey's place in the history books is safe following yesterday's trundle down the Dewhurst Stakes course.

Twilight Blues, who had been trading at 66-1 for the Guineas before race, was the emphatic winner, but the value of the form was reflected in his post-race price of 40-1 for the charge down the Rowley Mile back here on 4 May. In simple terms, he cannot win.

Yet he was king for a day yesterday, a treasure for his breeder, David Brown, the former Warwickshire and England fast bowler, and a vehicle which demonstrated that Pat Eddery's talents have not yet been eroded by time. The Irishman brought the chestnut colt down the centre of the track to easily beat the Queen's Approval.

"Pat said the horse was quite lazy out there," Brian Meehan, the winning trainer, said. "At half-way he was half niggling along which makes you think he would get the mile for certain."

The card's Group race, the Earl of Sefton Stakes, was won by David Elsworth's Indian Creek, who may now go for the Sir Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown a week on Saturday. He provided the second leg of a double for Richard Quinn, who steered Henry Cecil's Sea Star to success in the first.

The trainer looked pleased and splendid after that. He wore a pink gingham shirt, pink tie, socks and kerchief. He has lost nothing sartorially at least.

Sea Star's price was 16-1, but Cecil did not avail himself of the generosity. "The last time I backed one of ours it was 66-1," he said. "That was about 28 years ago. I don't bet. I'm Scottish. It's bad enough getting up at five o'clock in the morning without throwing it all away in the afternoon."

At Newmarket today, Aidan O'Brien conducts a sporting experiment when he sends out two Ballydoyle understudies to test the strength of the English form. The trainer does not subject his real Guineas horses to two foreign sorties in just over two weeks so we know that Della Francesca and Temple Of Artemis are sighters, the B-list.

The former, who was second here last autumn in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes, returns for the Craven Stakes, which does not have a great recent record either of providing the 2,000 Guineas winner, though Kings Best did go on to collect the first Classic two years ago.

The merit of the race can be gauged by the fact that Flat Spin, who will be well fancied here following victory in the Easter Stakes at Kempton on his reappearance, is not even in the Guineas. This appears a contest destined for King Of Happiness (next best 2.55), who has been the subject of tumbling prices recently. Michael Stoute's colt has been working satisfactorily with the reliable trials horse Top Dirham, who provided a similar service for Golan last year.

Temple Of Artemis is the second part of O'Brien's litmus test, in the Feilden Stakes. His main claim to fame last season was success in an ordinary maiden at Tipperary. It's a long way from there to a Listed race and there must be something better. The tom-toms were yesterday beating, albeit softly, the name of Gerard Butler's Playapart (2.20).

The turf's civil war ended rather limply yesterday when the British Horseracing Board and the bookmakers came skipping out of negotiations, arm in arm, following a deal which is expected to yield around £600m over five years for racing. That figure represents almost twice the amount which has been raised by the levy system in the previous five years.

Ladbrokes, William Hill, Coral, Stanley and Dones will each pay an annual charge of 10 per cent of gross profits on British racing in exchange for the commercial use of data in their British betting shops, as well as their telephone and internet operations.

The Tote is expected to sign up in the next few days. Most significantly, the deal will ensure that punters will be able to continue betting tax free.

"This is a historic day for the British racing and betting industries," Peter Savill, the chairman of the BHB, said. "We have agreed a long-term deal which will enable us to put aside our previous differences and work together to develop British racing as a sport with an increasing appeal to punters, spectators, viewers and those who work in the industry. I have no doubt that this new prosperity for racing will touch every facet of the sport."

2,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 4 May):

Coral: 6-4 Hawk Wing, 8-1 Love Regardless, 9-1 King Of Happiness & Naheef, 10-1 Rock Of Gibraltar, 14-1 Tendulkar, 20-1 Twilight Blues;

Ladbrokes: 6-4 Hawk Wing, 8-1 Love Regardless, 10-1 King Of Happiness & Naheef, 12-1 Tendulkar;

William Hill: 11-8 Hawk Wing, 8-1 King Of Happiness & Love Regardless, 10-1 Naheef, 12-1 Rock Of Gibraltar, 14-1 Tendulkar, 20-1 Comfy & Western Verse;

Tote: 11-8 Hawk Wing, 5-2 Johannesburg (with a run), 5-1 Naheef, 7-1 Love Regardless, 10-1 Dubai Destination, King Of Happiness, Tendulka, 14 Rock Of Gibraltar, 16-1 Imtiyaz, 20-1 Massalani, Western Verse, 25-1 Comfy, Hills Of Gold, Samhari, Zipping, 33 others.

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