Lionel flair can swing it

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The Independent Online
GREG WOOD

The biggest surprise on the first day of the Craven meeting was the sight of the queue at the ice-cream kiosk outnumbering that for the steaming seafood curry by at least 10 to one. But, while the Arctic winds are missing this year, one tradition at least seems sure to be resumed.

The Free Handicap threw up a Guineas winner 12 months ago - Harayir, who won the 1,000, finished second to Diffident - and even if today's field does not contain a future Classic winner or not, as three-year-old handicaps go it is an interesting contest, with several Group-class horses spread across a nine-pound range.

Tumbleweed Ridge took the Horris Hill Stakes last year, but it was a slowly-run race and probably unreliable form. There are doubts too about Cayman Kai, who may not stay, and World Premier, who suffered badly from colic last season, and Lucky Lionel (next best 3.40), the mount of Frankie Dettori, is the one to back. A Royal Ascot winner last year, this track and trip should suit him.

Two others to watch closely are Smart Alec (3.05), who returns after a long lay-off but has been working exceptionally well, and FAHS (nap 4.15), a intriguing recruit to Reg Akehurst's team. Off today's mark, Fahs would go close even without the Akehurst magic.

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