Racing: Emperor can rule against Roberts: The champion jockey's judgement is again under close scrutiny. Chris Corrigan reports

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The Independent Online
PICKING the wrong horse is a punter's ritual. For a top jockey, it is a scourge. Michael Roberts, last year's champion, has made a habit of it this season.

Misgivings must haunt Sheikh Mohammed's retained rider, then, after choosing to ride Half Term in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood today in preference to the Sheikh's other runner, Emperor Jones.

Roberts's most notable reject this season has been Opera House, the Eclipse Stakes winner. He opted instead to ride Barathea, the Sheikh's other contender, and finished fifth. Earlier, at Newmarket in July, he discarded Sabrehill in favour of the beaten Lacotte.

Roberts's chief ride today, Half Term, is a lightly-raced colt possessing plenty of scope. But Emperor Jones (3.10) has shown solid form in top company, including when a not-disgraced eighth in the 2,000 Guineas. He also has the assistance of Pat Eddery, who has ridden 131 winners so far this season in comparison to 75 for Roberts.

The Celebration Mile field is in pursuit of prize money worth pounds 50,000 - only one-third of that on offer in a race close to mediocrity at The Curragh this afternoon. An ordinary-looking bunch contest the Tattersalls Breeders Stakes, open to two- year-olds purchased through the Irish sales company, but some interest surrounds a British challenger, Music Of Dance (3.30).

To see her run, the filly's owner, a Hong Kong banker, is breaking off a holiday in Bali to fly to Ireland. Ron Carstairs, a Scots expatriate, has been trying to win this race since his Falcons Domain was beaten into third, by a head and a short-head, in 1990. Carstairs appears to have a filly to achieve his ambition.

Music Of Dance has run just once, at Lingfield three weeks ago. A third place to Brierley turns out to have been a fine effort because the fourth, Yo- Cando, came out again on Monday and comfortably held off well-fancied rivals. Brierley, too, ran well in a very hot race of previous winners on Tuesday.

'Music Of Dance is a nice filly,' her trainer, James Eustace says. 'She's improved since Lingfield and we've had this race in mind for some time.'

She is an attractive bay, but has one peculiarity. 'She swishes her tail a lot, particularly when she's quickening up in a gallop,' Eustace explained. 'It's a characteristic that's often the mark of an ungenuine horse. But I don't believe that's the case with her. In fact, it's almost as if she's using her tail as a propeller.'

Back in England, large fields of handicappers will be chasing small beer. Paddy Chalk (2.30) and John Reid, a partnership that won at Goodwood 12 months ago, can return to the winners' enclosure at the same track. Credit Squeeze (3.40) deserves to get his head in front and trainer Fulke Johnson- Houghton can also score at Newmarket, with Baskerville (next best 3.20).

FOOD OF LOVE (nap, 4.50) had a stiff task when fifth at Lingfield just two days ago and, now back in handicap company, can show her superiority to these rivals.

Frankie Dettori rides two David Loder-trained challengers at Arlington, Chicago, this weekend. Lupescu runs in today's Beverly D Stakes while Peter Davies contests tomorrow's Arlington Million.

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