Racing: Channon's youth team scores twice

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The Independent Online
AT THIS time of year, particularly in a lull between top-class fare, the focus tends to sharpen on the youngest generation of racehorses. Trainers are quietly beginning to introduce some of those for whom high hopes are held and the game of spot-the-star among the legions of future betting fodder can begin.

If history is a guide then those who were at Newbury yesterday are favourites to have seen a high-class three-year-old in embryonic form. In the past 10 years four Classic winners have appeared on the equivalent day, with honours going to the race with the highest status, the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes. The six-furlong contest was won by the subsequent 2,000 Guineas winner Rodrigo De Triano in 1991 and the French Guineas winner Victory Note two years ago and produced a sprint champion in runner-up Dayjur in 1989.

Yesterday Master Fay, the most exposed member of the field with placings at Royal Ascot and in the July Stakes, swept clear to win decisively. Time may show, though, that his stablemate at Mick Channon's stables, Wardat Allayl, winner by a neck of the Donnington Castle Stakes, has the brighter future. Sheikh Ahmed's Mtoto filly, a half-sister to brilliant but ill-fated Bint Allayl, outstayed With Iris with a will to take the seven furlong race.

Wardat Allayl is, apparently, a bit of a madam at home. Don Puccini, winner of the day's richest race, the Weatherbys Super Sprint, reserves vile behaviour for the track. Going into the starting stalls produced a temper tantrum as he dropped John Stack, threatened to kick his trainer, Bryan Smart, and tried to break loose. But once racing he showed why it is worth persevering with one of his mentality, surging ahead two furlongs out to beat Halland Park Girl by half a length. "He has a lot of talent, but there are kinks to iron out," Stack said with masterly understatement.

The five-furlong race offers the chance of a lucrative prize (pounds 71,760 yesterday) to a cheap horse, confined as it is to those bought at auction for 30,000 guineas or less. But cheap does not always mean bad; the Irish 2,000 winner Turtle Island finished third six years ago and if Don Puccini, an 18,000 guineas son of speedy Piccolo, can get his head straight then he may be as bright a sprinting prospect as two previous winners, Paris House and Lyric Fantasy.

But at least Don Puccini goes into the gate. Petary refused point-blank to do so at York last week, and some tact was required at Newmarket yesterday before the maiden race. Again it was worth it for the grey youngster, trained by John Gosden for Sheikh Mohammed, produced a display of determination to best Winning Venture and Sheer Hamas in a finish of whiskers and looks likely to proceed to better things.

"It is babyishness, rather than wilfulness," Gosden's assistant, William Balding, said. "He had a bit of a look, but is learning his trade well and we like him a lot." The race went to the same owner with his disappointing Lujain last year, but 10 years ago it produced a Guineas winner when Tirol finished second.

The search for the next two days is for lost, rather than budding, reputations. In the leafy Paris suburb of Maisons-Laffitte two Derby failures, Dubai Millennium and Salford Express, will be trying to redeem themselves in the Prix Eugene Adam over an extended 10 furlongs. Dubai Millennium's immature behaviour in the Epsom preliminaries meant that his mind was on anything but the task in hand during the race. He would hardly have blown a candle out after he came in ninth behind Oath and his minders, the Godolphin team, will be disappointed if the colt, winner of the Predominate Stakes, does not prove today that he is top class.

Equally, David Elsworth is convinced that his Dante Stakes winner Salford Express, 15th in the Derby, is a serious horse. Their three rivals comprise another from Britain, Luca Cumani-trained Manndar, and two talented locals, State Shinto and the likely favourite Sardaukar.

At Ayr tomorrow Housemaster, an excellent fourth in the Derby but a Royal Ascot flop since, goes to Ayr for the Scottish track's only Pattern race, the Group Three Scottish Classic.