Racing: Blinding display from Dazzle

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The Independent Online
Grave rumours were circulating before the Cherry Hinton Stakes here yesterday. The hot favourite, Dazzle, we were told out of the corner of various mouths, would not be winning as she had spent the previous week with a foot in a bucket of ice. However, in the middle of the afternoon, a similar receptacle was being used to accommodate champagne bottles as Dazzle sauntered to a five-length victory. Suddenly those with the inside track were difficult to find.

Dazzle, a Royal Ascot winner, certainly had the credentials to win the Group Two event. Her trainer, Michael Stoute, takes it as something of an insult if anyone else wins the race. In recent years he has saddled Top Socialite, Kerrera and Red Carnival to success, the last-named owned, like yesterday's winner, by the Cheveley Park Stud. The filly's performance hardly provoked beads of sweat among her supporters either as she stretched clear in the hands of Keiren Fallon.

Coral's immediate reaction was to offer 14-1 for the 1997 1,000 Guineas, but in the time it takes your hand to get anywhere near a trouser pocket she was down to 10-1. William Hill are even more defensive at 8-1.

These are nasty prices, even though the race was run in a fast time, but the takers will at least have the enthusiastic words of Fallon to warm them. "The acceleration she has off a fast pace is unbelievable," the jockey said. "She is by far the best I've ridden. I've never ridden a horse with such a turn of foot."

Stoute had been expected to win the day's other Group race, the Princess Of Wales's Stakes, with Singspiel, even though his colt seems to finish runner-up more times than Frank Bruno. In the event the four-year-old was second, yet again, to the 20-1 shot Posidonas.

Paul Cole's runner was such a big price as he had to carry a 5lb penalty for his victory in the Group One Gran Premio d'Italia at Milan last September. He had all the characteristics of an animal as overburdened as a prospector's mule because of his easy plunder of a Continental race, but it now appears Posidonas may be a decent beast in his own right. "Mine ran up to his mark, so the winner must be a good horse," Stoute said.

Cole himself was as surprised as backers. "We've never thought of him as anything like an Arc horse but he's obviously getting better," he said. "As he's by Slip Anchor he should be reaching his peak now at four and go on at five. He's growing in strength and he does try very hard which is always a help in a racehorse."

Perhaps more predictable was the win of Crown Court in the day's big handicap. His trainer, Luca Cumani, is not known for being a dimwit in this area, and he carefully engineered progress from third in a Beverley maiden to another five-length success here. This achievement was not lost on the handicapper Geoffrey Gibbs. "I'm glad to see you haven't lost your touch," he said in a poacher and gamekeeper exchange with the Newmarket trainer.

The day began with an impressive performance in the Strutt & Parker Maiden Stakes, a contest which, in the recent past, has given us Classic horses such as Alhaarth, Mark Of Esteem and Colonel Collins.

Bahhare, a half-brother to Bahri, certainly has a lot to live up to, but such was the ease of his success that Coral immediately promoted him to 16-1 joint-favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas with Zafonic's full- brother, Zamindar. "He's a lovely character," John Dunlop, the colt's trainer, said, "and has always been a horse who has been pleased to please you."

As the overhead zeppelin advertised the merits of Mastercard in a blue and white livery it seemed appropriate that the similar colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum should conquer. It was doubly apt as word had been that the colt was the best two-year-old the Arab has in his possession. You can't beat that racecourse gossip.

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