Racing: Commander Collins awaits orders

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The Independent Online
PETER CHAPPLE-HYAM still has two runners entered in the last Group One contest of the season, the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday, but has yet has yet to decide which will take part.

Chapple-Hyam has entered both Commander Collins and Bienmado, although each has an alternative engagement lined-up. Commander Collins could run in the Group Three Vodafone Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury this Friday, while Bienamado still holds an entry in the Group One Criterium de Saint- Cloud eight days later.

And while running plans for Commander Collins depend largely on the weather - soft ground at either venue would appear to prevent his running, as it did in the Grand Criterium at Longchamp earlier in the month - Chapple- Hyam has been unable to discuss running plans with John Toffan, owner of Bienamado.

"I still haven't made a decision," Chapple-Hyam said today.

"Commander Collins could still go to Newbury. We could make a decision on Thursday at the latest, and we pulled him out of the French race because it was too soft."

But while Chapple-Hyam has yet to make up his mind, punters have pre- empted him by lending strong support to Commander Collins, second to Auction House in the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month.

Coral opened for business this morning offering 3-1 Bienamado and 9-2 Commander Collins, but have now slashed the latter to 9-4 favourite, easing Bienamado, their 14-1 market leader for the 1999 Vodafone Derby, out to 7-2.

"Punters have well and truly steamed into Commander Collins, which must suggest he's an intended runner on Saturday", said Coral spokesman Simon Clare.

The likely soft ground has put in doubt the participation of Rhapsodist, runner-up to Commander Collins in a Listed race at Newmarket in July.

The going is currently described as `Good' but Rhapsodist's trainer John Gosden, at Yarmouth yesterday, put his colt's chances of running as "unlikely, given the ground up there."

Frankie Dettori completed a near 7-1 double in Sheikh Mohammed's colours on John Gosden's Georgette (3-1) and David Loder's Asood (10-11).

Asood took a walk in the market before the Wickhampton Novice Stakes but the newcomer enjoyed little more than a stroll in the race itself. The two-year-old could not be given away in the ring, having touched even money from an opening 4-9.

Racing Post Trophy betting (Coral): 9-4 Commander Collins, 7-2 Bienamado, 5-1 Tchaikovsky, 11-2 Coliseum, 6-1 Timahs, 10-1 Tumbleweed Quartet, 14- 1 Desaru, Rhapsodist & Magno, 16-1 Gudlage & Festival Hall, 33-1 Cupid, Housemaster, 50-1 Stormy Skye, 66-1 The Exhibition Fox.