Racing: Deadly quick and effective

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FORTY YEARS ago today the BBC broke new ground with the first edition of a live sports programme called Grandstand. Viewers were offered three races from Ascot as well as golf from St Andrews and showjumping from Wembley. This afternoon, the programme's pathfinding anchorman, Peter Dimmock, will be at the Berkshire track to help his current equivalent, Des Lynam, with the anniversary celebrations.

Things have changed a little since 1958. Jimmy Lindley is no longer the svelte 23-year-old who finished seventh in Grandstand's first televised race, the Tankerville Nursery, on the George Todd-trained Piranha. His now-BBC colleague Willie Carson had yet to have a ride in public. It is now permissible to broadcast starting prices over the air, a practice forbidden by strict gambling laws in those early days. And - heaven forfend - there is a woman in charge of a microphone.

That far-off Saturday card comprised, as well as the nursery, two handicaps and three races which now have Group status. The Cumberland Lodge and Diadem Stakes have now moved elsewhere in Ascot's calendar; the sole survivor on ths day is the Cornwallis Stakes.

The five-furlong dash was won in 1958 by Rosalba, a Jack Colling-trained filly who went on to prove a high-class three-year-old, runner-up in her 1,000 Guineas and winner of the Coronation and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

It is a fair bet that there will not be anything of Classic class in today's renewal; these days the race is very much a signpost for sprinters of the future. But a distaffer, appropriately, can take the Group Three spoils. Deadly Nightshade (2.30), a daughter of her in-form trainer's smart but ultimately cranky Dead Certain, is unbeaten in two runs and looks capable of coping with the upgrade in company. Another filly, the Irish challenger Show Me The Money, and the colt Red Prairie, coming on from a good third in the Flying Childers Stakes, provide the sternest opposition.

The Beeb's own race, the Grandstand 40th Anniversary Hyperion Stakes, is the contest that first brought Celtic Swing to public notice. If there is another of that ilk in today's field it is probably Zaajer (4.35), who made a pleasing debut over this course two weeks ago. Previous winners of the opening Autumn Stakes include Nashwan, Beauchamp King and, last year, Dr Fong. Boatman and Daliapour (2.00) are the pair for the notebook today.

In 1958 Olivier Peslier was not merely unconceived; his parents had probably still to meet. The 25-year-old French idol can give his British fans something to cheer by persuading Delilah (3.00) to become the first dual Princess Royal Stakes winner since Shebeen 23 years ago.

The big black tail-flashing mudlark is not the easiest of rides but is very much an autumn specialist and her Irish St Leger third to Kayf Tara and Silver Patriarch was top class.

Peslier has won a Group One race on three of the last four weekends, the Prix Moulin and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Desert Prince and the Arc on Sagamix. He has every chance of making it four from five in tomorrow's Grand Criterium, where he partners the pick of the Andre Fabre pair, Indian Danehill. In the absence of Commander Collins, the two British challengers for a contest won in the past two years by Second Empire and Revoque, are John Gosden's Glamis and Paul Cole's Red Sea.

Further afield, Philip Mitchell's Running Stag has a tilt at big bucks when he renews rivalry with America's big two, Skip Away (on a 10-timer) and Gentlemen, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, New York.