Racing: Entrepreneur the Classic collector

Words became deeds here yesterday as Entrepreneur, the talking horse of the close season, won the 2,000 Guineas on his first public appearance of the year. But the script might have been different if Revoque, the runner-up, had enjoyed as clear a passage down the Rowley Mile as the winner. The favourite, eating ground at the finish, was beaten just three- quarters of a length.

However, it is Entrepreneur's name which goes into the record books, and it is he who is the evens-money favourite to become the first colt since Nashwan eight years ago to complete the rare Guineas-Derby double. Time may show his victory, however fortuitous, was that of a very good horse indeed.

It is no longer a surprise that major races can be won by seasonal debutants, and Entrepreneur, with only three previous races under his considerable girth, was prepared for his date with destiny by one of the masters of that craft, Michael Stoute. As the outsiders Shii-Take and Starborough headed the charge from the stalls Michael Kinane let the big bay colt stride out in about fifth place, his high cruising speed keeping him easily in touch with the leaders. By half-way he had grabbed the pitch on the rails, and when the Irishman popped the question well before the two-furlong marker the response was immediate.

Entrepreneur quickened in the style of a top-class horse and belied his inexperience to stick his head down and repel Revoque's desperate efforts on the wide outside. A length and a half behind, Poteen ran on to snatch third place from Starborough, with French challenger Zamindar fifth.

It was yet another excellent training performance from Stoute, who started the year in style with Singspiel's victory in the Dubai World Cup. He has never hidden his admiration for Entrepreneur, but declined to get involved in the winter-time hype which had the big bay son of Sadler's Wells billed as the second coming of Pegasus. He said: "When we started working him as a two-year-old he exuded class, and we were quite excited. But a lot of rubbish was talked about him and what he had done at home. Today was the test, and he has done it well. He was relaxed beforehand, and a proper racehorse where it mattered. But it is still early days."

Revoque's run was every jockey's nightmare, and not much better for owner Robert Sangster and trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam. Their colt, who had looked a picture in the paddock, was slowly away and John Reid's unfortunate decision to weave wide to see daylight must have cost him more than the winning distance. Whether or not he would have beaten Entrepreneur will long be debated, but he must be judged unlucky not to have been given the best opportunity to have done so.

Sangster, though desperately disappointed, was stoical. "If you can't take this sort of thing, you shouldn't be in the game." There may be the prospect of a re-match, as Revoque has the Derby on his agenda after either the Irish 2,000 Guineas or the Dante Stakes, though a one-sided one if the market is correct, as Revoque is 7-1.

Entrepreneur will go straight to Epsom, with fine prospects of giving Stoute a third Derby (after Shergar and Shahrastani) to go with his third Guineas (after Doyoun and Shadeed). Comparisons with Shergar were inevitable, and Stoute said: "This one has a lot more speed than Shergar. We didn't even consider the Guineas for him."

The Newmarket-based trainer added: "He has shown he has the speed to win over a mile, and I am hopeful he will stay a mile and a half. His sister Dance A Dream was second in the Oaks, and he is a good-actioned, well-balanced horse, so the gradients should prove no problem."

Entrepreneur, bred about two miles from the racecourse at Cheveley Park stud (where his dam gave birth to a baby half-brother on Friday night), cost a whacking 600,000 guineas at auction as a yearling, but for once in the uncertain world of bloodstock trading it was money well spent. "Of course I was hopeful he'd be a champion," said his owner Michael Tabor, "but what you expect and what you get are not always the same thing."

One of the features of this meeting has been the poor showing by the Dubai-wintered Godolphin horses, and matters did not improve in the big race, where Shamikh trailed in 14th.

Racing results, page 15