Racing: Bertolini too fast for Classic

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The Independent Online
FROM THE moment the bookies chalked up their odds before the Free Handicap here yesterday, Bertolini drifted in the market at what would normally be an alarming rate. When the time came to race, though, he came back down seven furlongs of the July Course even more rapidly, to give John Gosden his second success in a Classic trial in as many days, albeit with a horse who will probably never run in a Classic.

Speed is what Bertolini has in abundance, and not the stamina which would carry him as far as the mile of the 2,000 Guineas. His trainer was even a little surprised that his strength lasted out over a furlong less yesterday, but when he drops back to sprint trips, Bertolini will be a horse to reckon with.

The winner was not even an intended runner this time last week, and was added to the race as "an afterthought" when it was re-opened on Saturday , having attracted only a handful of entries. Luck is clearly on Gosden's side, as the slow pace through the first three furlongs left the race at the mercy of Bertolini and his sprinter's speed. Frankie Dettori needed only to shake the reins a furlong out and the race was over in an instant.

Classic clues may have been in short supply, but racegoers did at least leave Newmarket armed with the knowledge that Gosden's string is in exceptional form. Bertolini was completing a double for the yard, following the success of Swan Knight in the first division of the Wood Ditton Stakes, a contest for unraced three-year-olds which usually includes some future Pattern- race performers.

Gosden does not have a single runner at Newmarket today, but his name will be one of the first to look for in the days ahead. Henry Cecil, too, is sending out daily winners, and he took the main supporting race yesterday, the Earl of Sefton Stakes, with Shiva, another horse with real potential.

Shiva is a great rarity in that she was bred in Japan, a country which rarely lets its equine sons and daughters escape to Europe. This was just her second run - and second success - after a series of leg problems, but if she stands up to training, there are more and better races to be won with her.

"I thought she would need the race," Cecil said, "so that was a good performance when you consider what she's been through. I always thought she could be very good if we could get her to the racecourse."

The Hindu deity after whom Shiva is named is responsible for, among other things, personal destiny. The fate mapped out for the Shiva with four legs - as opposed to a dozen arms - now seems sure to include Group Two races at least.

n Frankie Dettori and Tony McCoy are to meet in a head-to-head at Sandown on 24 April in a contest over a mile at level weights of 10st 4lb.

n Coliseum, an Aidan O'Brien Classic hope, is injured and is out for the season. O'Brien's Tchaikovsky, another Classic contender, beat two rivals at odds of 4-7 at Gowran yesterday.