Horse racing: Lack of belief in Dream

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The Independent Online
THE GREAT majority of French citizens were far too busy watching the national side beat Paraguay in the World Cup on Sunday afternoon to notice that a colt from Chantilly had won the Irish Derby at the Curragh, and if Pascal Bary, Dream Well's trainer, is feeling a little overlooked, the latest assessment of Dream Well will not improve his mood.

Even before last Sunday's race, Bary had expressed disappointment that Dream Well had been rated as inferior to High-Rise, who won the Derby at Epsom. Now, despite the ease of the colt's success at the Curragh, the revised opinion among the experts seems to be that he is better than High-Rise, but only just.

At the headquarters of Timeform in Halifax, Chris Williams, the handicapper responsible for three-year-olds, has advanced Dream Well to a rating of 127, a pound ahead of High-Rise and City Honours, who finished second in both the English and Irish Derbys but was rather closer to High-Rise than he was to Dream Well.

"He is the best three-year-old middle-distance colt," Williams said yesterday. "He is on the same mark as King Of Kings [the 2,000 Guineas winner, now retired] and a pound behind Cape Verdi. He has the potential to be a good horse, but on that result you can't really rate him as such. He's come on in leaps and bound since the start of the season and he won in pretty good style, but the ground was heavy and there could well be holes in the form. We won't really be able to tell how good he is until he comes up against older horses in the Arc."

Long before that, however, the relative merits of the current and previous Classic generations should be apparent. The midsummer cycle of all-aged events begins in just four days' time with the Eclipse Stakes over one mile two furlongs at Sandown, where the main representative of the three- year-olds is expected to be the filly Exclusive, who finished third to Cape Verdi in the 1,000 Guineas before winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Her participation is not yet definite, however, with the Falmouth Stakes at next week's July meeting at Newmarket an alternative engagement, which would leave Duck Row, third in the St James's Palace Stakes, to stand up for his three-year-old peers.

With no form to link the generations, the bookmakers appear as confused as anyone about Exclusive's chance of beating the older runners should she run at Sandown. When the ante-post market was framed yesterday, the filly was as short as 4-1 with William Hill, yet almost twice that price with the Tote, whose offer of 7-1 seems remarkably generous. It will surely be a distant memory by midday.

It is far from being the only difference of opinion among the odds-compilers, who are not usually noted for their independence of mind. The favourite with all firms is Daylami, who did not find much luck in running when third behind Faithful Son in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at the Royal meeting.

Whether he suffered quite enough misfortune to justify a quote of 11- 10 from Ladbrokes seems debatable, though, and Faithful Son probably has a better chance than a quote of 7-1 (William Hill) might suggest. Duck Row, meanwhile, is an 8-1 chance with Coral and Ladbrokes, but 14-1 with the Tote.

Most of the fancied runners can claim to have recent history very much on their side, since it is six years since an Eclipse winner was trained by someone other than Sir Michael Stoute or the Godolphin operation. Stoute, who prepares Exclusive, will also run Insatiable, who stands every chance on the form of his win over course and distance in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, but none at all judged on his sixth of seven behind Faithful Son at Ascot. "He didn't run very well, but he seems okay and did a bit of work yesterday morning," Stoute said yesterday. "He's run twice at Sandown and won twice." Ladbrokes offer 6-1 against the hat-trick.

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