Hern warmed by Alhaarth

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The Independent Online
As he sits through the white months, Dick Hern will have more than a rug over his knees and pikelets at the fireside to keep him roasting. He will also have the warm thoughts of Alhaarth, writes Richard Edmondson.

The temperature at Kingwood House stables will seem a few degrees higher than normal as the Major contemplates yet another Classic victory following his colt's three-and-a-half length demolition of Danehill Dancer in yesterday's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

"It was a great performance," Hern said with some understatement. "This will help us through the winter. He must be one of the best two-year-old colts I have had. I can't remember a better one. We will take things one step at a time but obviously he will be aimed at the 2,000 Guineas." Ladbrokes offer 2-1.

These are odds which Geoffrey Gibbs, the senior handicapper, will be urging those in his orbit to take. "It was a very authoritative performance," he said yesterday. "I would rate him around 125 and expect him to win the 2,000 Guineas off that figure. To be a great horse you have to pass three examinations. Alhaarth has passed the first, Lammtarra passed the second but failed to sit the third."

It was a warming day also for Willie Carson, Alhaarth's jockey, who had earlier steered the return to form of Bint Salsabil in the Rockfel Stakes. The beautifully bred filly is now 16-1 favourite for the Oaks.

Carson's good humour in the weighing room may not have been appreciated by Michael Roberts and Richard Quinn, who had less propitious afternoons. The former was thrown from Dixiemelody, who broke a leg and had to be destroyed, in the concluding event, while Quinn may share Carson's Stirling birthplace, but he does not possess his fellow Scot's current good fortune.

Quinn's efforts on Lap Of Luxury in the Darley Stakes were considered to have involved unreasonable frequency with the whip and he was suspended for two days.

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