Racing: Armiger to fulfil promise

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The Independent Online
TALK OF the influence of Middle Eastern owners on the British turf in recent weeks has tended to concentrate on the ever more public disillusionment of the Maktoum family. Yet amid all the anxiety, one man has been gradually unveiling one of the strongest hands of juvenile colts ever to enter a British winter.

Khalid Abdullah's Tenby and Zafonic are firm favourites for the Derby and 2,000 Guineas respectively, while the impressive Newmarket maiden winner Armiger is just one of several highly promising animals whose education has followed a less challenging schedule. The cotton wool may come off at Doncaster next Saturday, however, when Armiger will most likely be Abdullah's representative in the Racing Post Trophy. Tenby is also entered but had a hard race in soft ground at Longchamp a fortnight ago.

Such is Abdullah's strength in depth that whichever colt carries his colours, that is the one to be on. Armiger's form does not, at first inspection, stand comparison with the Group-winning ability of Clive Brittain's filly Ivanka or the Royal Lodge-winner Desert Secret, but his maiden was run in an extremely fast time and the rest of the field, including some highly thought-of animals, stretched back to the next county.

Ascot (Wednesday) and Newbury (Friday) both stage their first National Hunt cards of the season this week. Master Rajh (3.00) can take Ascot's feature, while the good Flat handicapper Jackson Flint (3.30) is an interesting entry for the novice hurdle.

Espy only rarely lived up to the promise of his successful seasonal debut in last year's Glynwed International Handicap Chase. Clearly best when fresh he can at least repeat that success on Friday, while Placerville can re-emphasise Abdullah's ascendancy in the Horris Hill Stakes the previous day.

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