Racing: All At Sea joins the new wave

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The Independent Online
Arazi was beaten again yesterday. Not by other horses this time but a leg injury which kept him out of the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp. It is a comment on his enduring hold on our imagination that Arazi's absence takes precedence over even All At Sea's victory. Probably an unflattering comment.

All At Sea's win from Brief Truce and Hatoof, the 1,000 Guineas winner, places her on an impressive cast list for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot later this month. Arazi's withdrawal means that we will have to wait for the Prix du Prince d'Orange in a fortnight to discover - once and for all, and with no excuses, please - whether the global superhorse of 1991 is conclusively off the rails.

Francois Boutin, Arazi's trainer, has been dragged to the microphone for explanations countless times this summer and yesterday's dispatch will join a high pile of similarly exasperating statements. 'He worked on Tuesday but on Saturday morning his leg was very swollen,' Boutin said before confirming the Breeders' Cup Mile as Arazi's long-term target. Don't hold your breath.

Better instead to credit All At Sea with her first success since the Musidora Stakes in May, and one which would not have been achieved but for the tactical wisdom of her owner, Khalid Abdullah. It was Abdullah who suggested that All At Sea return to racing over a mile on the soft surface she must have before the full range of her stride can be applied. It was a theory which he backed with pounds 9,000 by way of a supplementary entry fee.

To think that back in early spring All At Sea was virtually ignored by the gawpers on the gallops in Newmarket. At the same time Seattle Rhyme was favourite for the Derby, Arazi was about to become the next Secretary General of the UN and the connections of Suave Dancer were being lauded for keeping the Arc winner in training, thus encouraging us to imagine inter-generational showdowns on the great racing circuits of Europe. Fahd Salman, who had retired Generous to stud, was being regarded as the kid who had taken his bat home.

They say that Steve McQueen's last words before he died were: 'Never trust no-one.' It can be a bit like that with horses, both in financial terms (ante-post betting) and the irrational allegiances we form with these unwitting and delicate animals.

Suave Dancer's demise through injury is the saddest of them all. This was a horse who looked as if he spent his life in a gym and improved dramatically through last autumn to encourage hopes that here, at last, was a runner who would excel as a four-year-old and so nail the myths about limited mileage and the dangers of competition.

The policy has proved as expensive as it was bold. The most knowledgeable of bloodstock experts insist that Suave Dancer could have earned his masters pounds 2m in stud fees this season (50 mares at pounds 40,000 each) and will have fallen in value during his time on the sidelines, so short are memories in the breeding industry. It is a lesson that will be grimly absorbed by owners now trying to decide whether to keep their talented three-years-olds in combat for another year.

One such proprietor is Robert Sangster, who knows these sums better than anybody. His Rodrigo De Triano is likely to remain at his post at Peter Chapple-Hyam's yard this winter, but for the most part Sangster sees more problems than benefits in pleasing the public.

'We kept Alleged in training as a four-year-old because we didn't think he'd reached his full potential at three,' Sangster says. Alleged won the Arc, for the second consecutive year, so the calculation was correct. 'The problem is that colts don't always want to race at four and five because they get a bit wise to it. They say: 'been there, done that'. That, more than the monetary factor, would make my decision for me.'

Meanwhile, confirmation that Seattle Rhyme is not the horse we thought he was comes with the bookmakers' decision to remove him from the Arc betting following his defeat in the September Stakes at Kempton on Saturday. Not that the negatives outweigh the positives as we hurtle towards the St Leger and beyond: autumn's new order, led by St Jovite and User Friendly, promises a richly stocked programme that begins at Doncaster on Saturday and Leopardstown 24 hours later, when St Jovite meets Kooyonga and Dr Devious or Rodrigo De Triano in the Irish Champion Stakes. Hot stuff.

The consensus is that User Friendly is one to oppose in the St Leger, so the latest list of alternative bets from Hills is well worth scrutinising. They show: 13-8 User Friendly, 5-2 Bonny Scot, 11-2 Sonus (who is 8-1 from 6-1 with Ladbrokes), 8-1 Allegan and Rain Rider, 10-1 Assessor and 12-1 Mack The Knife. For the Arc you will do well to beat 5-4 about St Jovite with Hills, and 10-1 Dr Devious with Ladbrokes, though this, of course, is entirely the wrong time to be pre-empting what might happen at Longchamp.

Likewise, what might happen in next year's Classics. After their victories at The Curragh and Kempton respectively on Saturday, Sayyedati (10-1 for the 1,000 Guineas) and Silver Wizard (25-1 for the 2,000) were on offer from an industry never short of new names to tout.

Just say no.

Prix du Moulin de Longchamp

1. ALL AT SEA chestnut filly Riverman - Lost Virtue Pat Eddery

2. Brief Truce M J Kinane

3. Hatoof G Mosse

Also ran: 4. Misil; 5. Kitwood; 6. Cardoun; 7. Take Risks; 8. Shanghai; 9. Sharp Review; 10. El Prado. 10 ran. nk, 2 1/2. (H Cecil, Newmarket). Pari-Mutuel: 3.90; 1.60, 1.40, 1.70. DF 5.30. NRs: Arazi, Akiko.

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