Racing: Alrassaam on Eclipse trail

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ALRASSAAM HAS already claimed the scalp of Killer Instinct and signalled himself ready to take on more big shots after a spirited performance at Haydock yesterday.

The disappointment of his effort in the 2,000 Guineas was forgotten as he won the Bickershaw Stakes. He was made to battle hard all the way to the line before disposing of Teapot Row by half a length. The long- time absentee Sorbie Tower produced a noteworthy comeback in finishing a further half-length back in third.

Alrassaam had looked a horse packed with potential after toppling the much-vaunted Killer Instinct at Newbury last month. But he failed to show any sparkle when finishing down the field in the Classic.

"His Guineas performance was a disappointment but nothing has come to light to explain that," said his trainer Michael Jarvis. "Maybe the ground was against him and the race came too quickly but he is a big baby and still learning."

Entries for Alrassaam include the Eclipse Stakes but Jarvis has no firm plans and said: "We'll sit on the fence for now and see how he is. But 10 furlongs looks a possible trip for him now and I'm sure he'd be better with a stronger gallop."

By contrast Sorbie Tower, making his way back after a tendon injury and a spell at stud, is definitely on his way to Royal Ascot for the Queen Anne Stakes. His first outing since September 1996 was promising enough, though he is still well below his previous best.

"A bit more pace and we'd have probably won," insisted trainer Gay Kelleway. "Ray [Cochrane] said he wasn't hard on him as it was his first run for a long while and that run has to be good enough for me. It will be tough at Ascot but I'm sure he will go there with a fighting chance."

Kieren Fallon helped himself to a double on Taffs Well and Mayo. Fallon found a dream run through the pack to send the well-backed 5-2 favourite Taffs Well to the front in the Coral Handicap.

It soon became evident that he would not be caught and at the line he had two and a half lengths to spare over Nominator Lad. It was Taffs Well's third victory from his last four outings and he is likely to be taking a break now.

"We had to run him here as he's set to go up 4lb from tomorrow. The horse is really improving and enjoying himself at the moment," said his trainer Brian Ellison.

Mayo, trained by Fallon's boss Henry Cecil, improved on his win in a maiden race at Lingfield as he saw off Senure in the Scottish Equitable/Jockeys' Association Handicap.

n Richard Hughes was the jockey in form at Nottingham where he landed a 233-1 treble on Fantasy Hill, Camp Fire and I Cried For You. The final leg of the three-timer, provided the Gainsborough trainer James Given with his first winner.