Heavens cast Shadows over Harayir

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The Independent Online

Things have not quite gone according to plan for Harayir since her victory in the 1,000 Guineas two months ago, and there was strong evidence at Newmarket yesterday that she has enemies in high places. "She's very well," Dick Hern, Harayir's trainer, said after saddling Alhaarth to take the opening race, "but we don't want too much thunder." A second later, a thunderclap boomed around the July course, and even the most hardened reporters felt like crossing themselves.

What Hern was worried about, of course, was the rain which inevitably followed. Harayir needs it fast, and while the soaking lasted for barely half an hour, it was hardly an auspicious omen for a Classic winner attempting to redeem a rather tarnished reputation. Another concern is that Harayir seems to be at her best tracking a fierce pace, something which is far from guaranteed with just four taking her on in today's Falmouth Stakes.

Even the drop in class to Group Two, after three successive runs at Group One level, is offset by the 6lb penalty for her win in the Guineas and Harayir must be vulnerable again today. The one to beat her is Warning Shadows (3.40), who finished ahead of Harayir in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and only one and a quarter lengths behind her in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot, both times at level weights.

Ascot form is also the key to the July Stakes, in which Lucky Lionel, the Norfolk Stakes winner, opposes World Premier, who took the Chesham later the same afternoon. The most intriguing runner, though, is First Fiddler, who finished fourth in the Norfolk, beaten just over three lengths.

First Fiddler ran a strange race at Ascot. He gave the rest of the field several lengths' start and was hopelessly outpaced until just over a furlong out. At that point, however, he snatched hold of the bit and flew. Over today's extra furlong, and on 5lb better terms with the winner, FIRST FIDDLER (nap 2.35) makes a serious betting proposition.

Not so, perhaps, Royal Circle (4.15), who will start very short but is impossible to oppose. On her debut almost three months ago she was runner- up to Tamure, who shortly afterwards finished second in the Derby. Collateral form lines do not come much stronger.

Roger Charlton, Royal Circle's trainer, is returning to form after a poor couple of months, which makes Myrtle Quest, bottom weight in the Duke of Cambridge Handicap, an interesting entry. Just above him, though, is a formidable opponent in Jalfrezi (next best 3.10), unlucky not to win at Sandown last month and still improving rapidly. There is rather less scope for progress in the opening seller , but Society Girl (2.05) does at least have winning form to her credit.

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