Racing: Close trial verdict an injustice to Inchinor: Saturday's Classic examination is overshadowed by the Scottish National but may yet prove to have pinpointed a worthy Guineas candidate

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The Independent Online
JUST a neck in it at the line, but while that margin of victory helped make Saturday's Scottish National as compelling as any jump race this season, the same winning distance in the Greenham Stakes marked down the race as the latest, and last, of the uninspiring trials for the 2,000 Guineas.

Yet although Inchinor gained only a narrow verdict in the Greenham, Roger Charlton, his trainer, believes he won the best of the trials, while the connections of the third horse home, Tinners Way, saw enough merit in his performance to send him for the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas). Khalid Abdullah, the owner of Tinners Way, will now re-direct Wharf, who had been earmarked for the Longchamp race, towards Newmarket and a confrontation with yet another Abdullah horse, Zafonic.

'I would have thought the Greenham was a better race than the Craven Stakes,' Charlton said yesterday. 'The first three quickened away at Newbury whereas they didn't at the end of the Craven and finished in a heap.'

The bookmakers take a different view and have bracketed the leading campaigners from the British trials - Inchinor and the Craven contenders Emperor Jones, Wharf, Barathea and Chaddleworth - at around the 10-1 mark. With the Greenham failing to throw up a stimulating performance and Vincent O'Brien's Fatherland running as if he had entered Grandfatherland with his rider, Lester Piggott, at Leopardstown, the bookies have again shortened Zafonic's price and he is now 4-5 with Ladbrokes and 10-11, from 11-10 with Coral.

'Zafonic was a lot better than the rest last year, about four or five lengths better, but it remains to be seen if he is still that far ahead now,' Charlton said. 'We'll know in two weeks' time.'

For those who would like to speculate before the result is in the form book, Inchinor could be the best investment. The only horse to beat him in four races was Zafonic in last season's Dewhurst Stakes and Charlton's colt may well have made the greater progress; certainly he beat Paul Cole's Firm Pledge more easily on Saturday than he had in the Dewhurst.

'Inchinor is a horse that just does enough,' Charlton said. 'Frankie (Dettori) had the impression that there was a little more in reserve.' Charlton confirmed that Dettori, who was partnering Inchinor for the first time in place of Richard Quinn who rode him in all his races last year, will stay on board for the Guineas.

Jockey arrangements for Wharf will be defined in the next few days as he forsakes a trip to Longchamp for a stroll from Henry Cecil's stable at Warren Place to the Rowley Mile. 'Wharf was the best horse at the weights in the Craven,' Grant Pritchard-Gordon, Abdullah's racing manager, said of the colt who gave 3lb to Emperor Jones and was beaten a head. 'The reason for the switch is to give Tinners Way, who was not declared for Newmarket, a run in France. He deserves his chance.'

Pritchard-Gordon has also to juggle Abdullah's Derby contenders, principally Tenby and Armiger, but also Commander In Chief and Placerville who both won at Newmarket last week.

The former returns to Headquarters for a race at the Guineas meeting, while Pritchard-Gordon dispelled doubts about the stamina of Placerville, who left his opponents stranded when quickening out of the dip but was nearly swamped again before the line in the nine-furlong Feilden Stakes. 'We've no fear of him not staying,' he said. 'His next run will be over nine furlongs plus.'

One animal whose stamina is in question, Lyric Fantasy, will be put through her paces in a racecourse gallop next weekend by Pat Eddery, who will play an important part in deciding whether last season's fastest filly will attempt to extend her talents to a mile in the 1,000 Guineas.

'If Pat isn't satisfied with the way Lyric Fantasy works, there's a good chance she wouldn't run,' Richard Hannon, her trainer, said and confirmed that he has offered Eddery the ride on the filly at Newmarket. The Irishman may be required to partner Felucca for Abdullah, who retains him, but she has suffered a setback and her participation is in doubt.

One riding arrangement likely to be clarified in the next few days is that for Elizabeth Bay, the 1,000 Guineas favourite. Thierry Jarnet, who has an agreement to ride the Sheikh Mohammed horses trained by Andre Fabre, got into such a mess on the filly that they managed to lose her trial at Maisons-Laffitte. Michael Roberts seems certain to take over.

The question of riding appointments was also raised after Run For Free became the first horse since the Second World War to win the Welsh and Scottish Nationals in the same season. Mark Perrett can only have improved his prospects of getting the job vacated by Peter Scudamore as Martin Pipe's stable-jockey after cooly making up the 35-length defecit forfeited at the start.

Adrian Maguire is the leading candidate and Pipe yesterday maintained, modestly, that he is 'waiting to see who wants the job' that enabled Scudamore to break so many records.

2,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket 1 May): Coral: 10-11 Zafonic, 10-1 Barathea, Emperor Jones, Inchinor & Wharf, 12-1 Chaddleworth, 14-1 Right Win, 16-1 others. Ladbrokes: 4-5 Zafonic, 8-1 Wharf, 10-1 Barathea, Chaddleworth, Emperor Jones & Inchinor, 16-1 others.

1,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket 29 April): Coral: 5-2 Elizabeth Bay, 3-1 Sayyedati, 7-1 Niche & Zarani Sidi Anna, 14-1 Lyric Fantasy & Stella Mystika, 16-1 others. (Photograph omitted)

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