Presenting poses a puzzle

DONCASTER ST LEGER MEETING: The participation of the big-race favourite is put in doubt
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reports from Town Moor

John Gosden's quest for a first British Classic now looks likely to spill over into 1996. The trainer's Presenting, who is unsuited by easy ground, has been removed from the betting for tomorrow's St Leger by one firm and pushed out by others following rain on Town Moor.

Gosden spawned something close to an urban myth yesterday as he was sought to detail plans for Presenting. The trainer was known to be in the Doncaster area and, following a suggestion that he might walk the course, it quickly became easy to find people who heard he had been pacing up the Yorkshire straight. Like all good Loch Ness monster spottings, there was no film, no evidence, to suggest this was true, and by late afternoon Gosden was on his way back to East Anglia.

Lanfranco Dettori, Presenting's rider, described the going as on the easy side and on the way to good to soft. That would be too spongy for Presenting.

Willie Carson had a different view of the terrain and was more forthright about the favourite's prospects. "It's lovely soft ground," he said. "Presenting might as well stay in his box."

About 10mm of rain had fallen overnight, persuading the course executive that the going had changed just one shade, to good. The forecast was for showers and strong winds.

More rain would ensure the participation of the Andre Fabre-trained Affidavit, the new favourite in some lists. Anthony Stroud, racing manager to the colt's owner, Sheikh Mohammed, warned though that Thierry Jarnet, Fabre's stable jockey, would not be able to ride as he has been declared to participate in a Tierce race at Longchamp. If Presenting defects, Dettori could be called up.

The day's competition was dominated by Mark Johnston, who saddled Branston Abby and Double Trigger to ground-breaking victories. The former recorded her 19th career success in the Sceptre Stakes, a post-war record for a mare running at her level of competition.

Double Trigger became one of the few horses to complete the stayers' triple crown, following up wins at Goodwood and Ascot in the Doncaster Cup. The manner was the same as the other two, as the cartoon-book flashy form of the chestnut looked likely to be swallowed up early in the straight only to then switch on the afterburner. "It always looks as though they're bunching up behind him but then he finds an extra gear," Johnston said. "That's what sets him apart and makes him the best stayer we've seen for a long, long time. He's got stamina and class."

He will now be trained for Longchamp's Prix du Cadran before being encased in quarantine before the Melbourne Cup. Coral's representative (and he managed a straight face when he said this) announced Double Trigger as a 4-1 chance for the Australian race.

Solar Crystal was also cut, to 25-1 for the 1996 1,000 Guineas, after producing a composed performance in the May Hill Stakes. This was the race in which Carson had been asked to make the devilish choice between Ruznama and Bint Salsabil. He chose the former correctly, but she could manage only third. Bint Salsabil, formerly a leading Classic prospect, finished eighth and her reputation is now rubble.

The most pertinent Classic information concerned two well-connected fillies who did not run in the race. Bosra Sham, Hector Protector's sister, and Pricket, Diminuendo's sister, are stablemates of Solar Crystal at Henry Cecil's yard and both are considered to be moon jumps ahead of yesterday's winner.

ST LEGER: Coral: 3-1 Affidavit, 7-2 Classic Cliche & Luso, 6-1 Kalabo, 10-1 Court Of Honour & Jural; Ladbrokes (non runner, no bet): 3-1 Affidavit, 100-30 Luso, 4-1 Classic Cliche & Presenting, 6-1 Jural & Kalabo, 8-1 Court Of Honour; William Hill: 5-2 Presenting, 9-2 Affidavit & Luso, 11- 2 Classic Cliche, 8-1 Kalabo, 10-1 Jural, 12-1 Court Of Honour, 14-1 Anchor Clever & Sanmartino.