Racing: Dividend can finally pay out

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The Independent Online
IT IS a day for youth at Newmarket this afternoon, when the July Course will stage what has become one of the most significant two-year- old races of the entire season. The contest in question is not the Cherry Hinton Stakes, for all its Group Two status and a field of fillies who have proven themselves useful at least. Instead, punters with an eye on the future will take particular note of the humble seven-furlong maiden which opens the card.

Strange though it may seem, this is a race which in the last six years has produced not only Colonel Collins, who was placed in three Classics, but two Classic winners, in Mark Of Esteem (who was beaten by Alhaarth) and Victory Note. They all made their debuts in this event, the latter in a renewal which also marked the first appearances of Arkadian Hero and Rainbow High. The names in today's race are all unfamiliar, but if history is any guide, they are unlikely to remain that way for long.

This is not of any immediate use, since this will never be a race to bet on. It is a moot point, though, whether the official feature event for juveniles, the Cherry Hinton, offers much more of an edge. Only one of the dozen runners, Zestril, is unbeaten, and while several ran well in good races at the Royal meeting, their shortcomings were exposed too.

The best winning form in the race is probably that of Hoh Dear, who beat Forever Midnight, who takes her on again, in the Empress Stakes over course and distance last month. That was a very ordinary race, though, and the one to back could be Presentation (3.05). Fifth in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, Richard Hannon's runner has Mick Kinane in the saddle, but this is a tricky race and one in which stakes should be kept to a minimum.

A more appealing contest is the Princess of Wales's Stakes, in which Arctic Owl, one of the best stayers in Europe, takes on Sea Wave, Craigsteel (who beat Victory Note in the opener two years ago) and two promising three-year-olds in Zaajer and Bienamado.

Zaajer was a popular outsider for the Derby last month, but could not get into the race and may need very soft ground to show his best form. Bienamado was a fine juvenile last season but makes his debut here, unlike Sea Wave, whose first run of the year was a promising third to Fruits Of Love in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Sea Wave (next best 3.40) improved markedly for a run last season, and went on to win the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York by four lengths. A similar level of form would see him home with something to spare.

The 20-runner handicap is a daunting prospect, but it may be wise to remember the old saying that a horse should always be forgiven one poor run. FINAL DIVIDEND (nap 2.35) finished last in his most recent race, at Nottingham in May, but had previously won a fair race at Salisbury with plenty in hand. That latest failure will be reflected in his price and a return to the Salisbury form would give him every chance.

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