Racing: Blinkers put Fard in Classic focus: A daydreaming colt has been transformed into a serious contender for the top two-year-old race of the season

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The Independent Online
A FEW ounces of satin and plastic may hold the key to this afternoon's Dewhurst Stakes, the season's most important juvenile event. A set of blinkers coaxed such improvement from Fard in last month's Middle Park Stakes that he took the Group One event at 33-1 with daylight in second, and a repeat performance here today would push David Morley's colt to the front of his generation.

Traditionally, blinkers are the 'rogue's badge', a sign that, though a horse's legs are moving, its heart is elsewhere. Fard's problem, though, was a wandering mind - 'he just doesn't concentrate, he's always been like that' Morley said this week - and with the blinds now focussing his attention where it belongs, he is a force to be respected.

Today's opposition includes Eltish, second favourite for the 1995 2,000 Guineas, and Andre Fabre's unbeaten Pennekamp, but many punters will still be enticed by Coral's quote of 11-2 about a proven Group One winner.

Sadly, of course, there is a catch. Fard quickened clear of a good field on his last visit to Newmarket, but today he must travel an extra furlong. 'We're going into the unknown,' Morley said, 'but I think he will get the seven furlongs and the blinkers will help. He certainly seems to be on good terms with himself and I don't think his last race took too much out of him.'

The Middle Park winner of 1992, Zieten, took the Group Two Challenge Stakes yesterday, but even the backers who were paid out at 13-2 would struggle to claim that he did so on merit.

Soviet Line, the 13-8 favourite, finished second under an unusually poor ride by Pat Eddery, who was placed in a difficult position by a slow start but still made little attempt to improve his situation until too late.

Richard Quinn was another jockey whose concentration was less than absolute. Assured of second place on Statajack in the Greene King Handicap, Quinn eased down and allowed Burooj to pass him, incurring a pounds 450 fine for failing to ride out his mount in the process. He was lucky to stay in the frame at all - Tom Waller was a short-head away from snatching third.

A more rewarding display of the jockey's art was provided by Lanfranco Dettori, whose 393-1 treble on Petindia, Zieten and Polish Admiral took his seasonal total to 227. Zieten, a dependable performer for the last three seasons, has been sold to stand at stud in France, but John Gosden has not ruled out a run in the Breeders' Cup before Zieten is allowed to enjoy his retirement.

If so, it is to be hoped that his experience does not match that of Garden Of Heaven, who took yesterday's opener. Taken to Florida for the Breeders' Cup two years ago, Garden Of Heaven was scratched after losing 20 kilos in transit, and took many months to recover from the experience. My Patriarch, too, has made a long, wasted journey. John Dunlop's colt, well- fancied for next month's Melbourne Cup, sustained an injury at exercise on the track yesterday morning and will miss the race.

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