Racing: Central Park carrying Whatcombe confidence

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The Independent Online
Saturday's Dewhurst Stakes promises to point to who will win the 2,000 Guineas in 1998.

Paul Cole, the trainer, believes he has a colt capable of winning both races. Richard Edmondson reports.

It was in the Dewhurst Stakes of 1990 that the winner gloriously lived up to his name. Generous, the flowing chestnut, was returned at 50-1 for his grateful followers.

Such a price seems ludicrous now that we are able to employ hindsight. Paul Cole's colt went on to win a Derby and a King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes as he made an early application for the horse of the decade laurels.

Seven years on there is another flaxen figure emerging from Whatcombe to do battle in the juvenile play-off. Central Park, too, may be overpriced (his trainer certainly thinks so) as he goes into a first Saturday Dewhurst.

Daggers Drawn, who, like Central Park, is going for a fourth consecutive victory and Xaar, France's Prix de la Salamandre winner, are both preferred in the betting. Yet a form line through Docksider, whom Central Park beat comfortably at Goodwood, makes Cole's representative at least as good a horse as Daggers Drawn. In addition, the Goodwood third, Little Indian, has since gone on to capture the Group Three Solario Stakes.

Central Park has already detonated one huge reputation, when beating Cape Verdi in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, and was denied the chance of spoiling another when a blood disorder prevented him competing in the National Stakes won by King Of Kings. "He had a mild infection and when we blood-tested him before the race in Ireland he was in the recovery stage," Cole said yesterday. "But he's back now and worked really well this morning. He's in top form and I'm pleased with him.

"Him and Generous are completely different horses so you can't really compare them. Generous was on his way back after a big disappointment, blowing out at Deauville [when 10th of 12 behind Hector Protector in the Prix Morny], so this horse is following a totally different route. He's going to be a mile plus horse in time and some of those in there on Saturday might be seven-furlong horses, pure and simple. We're taking it bit by bit, but I suppose if he wins the Dewhurst, then, yes, he will go for the Guineas."

Saturday's offerings will also include guest performances from Singspiel and Bosra Sham. The former will gallop before racing as part of his preparation for the Breeders' Cup, while Bosra Sham, last year's winner of the Champion Stakes, will parade as part of her final public appearance. This year's Champion will see Willie Ryan attempt to repeat his Derby success on John Gosden's Benny The Dip. With Frankie Dettori committed to Stowaway and the French champion Olivier Peslier on Andre Fabre's Loup Sauvage, Ryan was yesterday confirmed as the Benny's partner.

Saturday's bejewelled card also includes the Cesarewitch and has persuaded the course executive to refer to their events, rather grandly, as Champions Day. This has entailed asset-stripping the other cards at the meeting and today's events at Headquarters could quite easily be labelled Mediocre Day. Channel 4 televise four races, four of which are handicaps.

With an average field of 24, this is a day when stakes should be limited to the stuff you find down the back of the sofa. Celestial Choir (2.05) is a bit enigmatic but last week's York winner has the ability to follow up, while Crofters Ceilidh (3.10) is due a win and is coming to the boil at the right time.

Dancing Wolf (next best 2.35) could be well in on her Kempton third to Refined. MASTER BEVELED (nap 3.40) is getting on a bit but he has come down in the weights and will like the easing ground.