reports from Newmarket
Alhaarth, it seems, will not be using his local saver travel pass after all this week for Newbury's Greenham Stakes. The griddle-hot favourite for both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby will now see his home course only out of the box window as he travels to contest Newmarket's Craven Stakes tomorrow.
Major Dick Hern, the colt's trainer, has had the weather maps spread across the table at his Lambourn yard and the deduction is that bad weather will visit Newbury on Friday.
"The Major will talk to Willie [Carson] and Sheikh Hamdan [Al Maktoum] tonight but it sounds like it is more likely to be here than Newbury," Angus Gold, the racing manager to Alhaarth's owner, said at Headquarters yesterday. "He does not want too hard a race on soft ground at this stage of the year.
"Everyone is talking about him carrying a penalty here, but other than Rio Duvida, the more proven horses are carrying a penalty as well anyway."
Connections have already collected the 2,000 Guineas with Nashwan, who went to the Classic without a race. Circumstances have altered with the latest hero. "This is a different type of horse from Nashwan, who did everything very generously at home," Gold said. "This is a pretty idle horse who does just enough and that's it. As soon as he sees his wagon and he goes past his lead horse that's it. He's working very well and the Major couldn't be happier with him but this is just to sharpen the horse up."
Bint Salsabil had her 1,000 Guineas sharpener for the same team yesterday in the Nell Gwyn Stakes and just failed to hold the late burst of Thrilling Day. The staying-bred filly ran the mirror image of the race expected from her, leading all the way before capitulating in the final strides. Carson put this down to lack of fitness. John Dunlop, Bint Salsabil's trainer, did not.
Sheikh Hamdan, who is some way behind Rolf Harris in the outwardly jolly table, said: "I thought a furlong out she would draw away but the jockey said she got tired."
This was the day for Thrilling Day, who had been whipped up to an early peak of perfection against fillies who had red rings surrounding future events in the diary. Neil Graham's runner may now go for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she will not find the opposition as lethargic.
The Abernant Stakes was captured by Passion For Life, who would probably flinch if you flashed an item of cutlery in front of him. Geoff Lewis's horse has had the more damaging silverware of scalpels glinting in front of him twice already in his short life, firstly to remove bone chips from his knees and then any chance he had of being a father.
The potential stud value of Sacho does not appear as good as it was either. The second favourite for the Derby was beaten on his seasonal debut and is now 25-1 (from 14-1) with Ladbrokes for the Classic. He was the first of many idols who will fall this week.
The spring of the Flat season is when potential Group horses emerge like ducklings swimming in a rip tide to keep up with their mother's stern. Before the end of this month there will be others like Sacho paddling to stop being swept back over the weir.
1,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 5 May) Leading ante-post odds:
Coral: 11-10 Bosra Sham, 4-1 Blue Duster, 8-1 Bint Salsabil & Bint Shadayid, 10-1 A Votre Sante.
Ladbrokes: 11-8 Bosra Sham, 7-2 Blue Duster, 8-1 Bint Shadayid, 10-1 A Votre Sante, Bint Salsabil.
William Hill: 11-8 Bosra Sham, 7-2 Blue Duster, 8-1 Bint Shadayid, 10- 1 A Votre Sante, 12-1 Bint Salsabil.
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