Racing: Fallow ready for fresh fields: A top juvenile aims to end a barren spell, as a mare prepares to realise a lifetime's ambition

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The Independent Online
SRI PEKAN's almost unique accumulation of the summer's best juvenile races - Coventry, Richmond and Champagne Stakes - has pushed him to the top of the 2,000 Guineas market, but the colt who came closest to breaking the sequence has slipped from many backers' memories.

In the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, David Loder's Fallow started favourite at 11-8 ahead of Sri Pekan at 9-4, but suffered an unthinkably bad passage through the six-runner field which almost certainly cost him victory. Seven weeks later, Fallow's relative anonymity is explained by two subsequent defeats, in the Gimcrack at York, where success seemed certain until Chilly Billy found two extra gears, and more worryingly in the Heinz 57 Stakes at Leopardstown, where Fallow was a poor sixth to Eva Luna. In today's Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury, he needs to make a fresh start.

Fresh is probably the key word, as Fallow has been absent since the Gimcrack, which was his fourth Group race in six weeks. 'This will be his eighth race in all,' Loder said yesterday. 'Not many horses can take the sort of season he's had, but he thrives on it and I'm as happy with him now as at any time this season. We've freshened him up a bit and this is really his prep race for the Middle Park Stakes.'

The soft ground is Loder's principal worry. 'We're not altogether certain that he'll appreciate the cut, but he needs to get a race under his belt to put him right for Newmarket. His break was a long one for him, and he might just be a little rusty mentally.'

In what appears to be a strong renewal of the Mill Reef, there are several rivals, most notably Princely Hush and Gay Gallanta, who will seize on any hesitancy by Fallow. Loder's runner needs to be brought late - which may present a further problem on the soft ground - and success today would surely confirm him as within sight of the best of his generation.

Good race though it is, the Mill Reef can be little more than a supporting act today, with the Ayr Gold Cup pre- occupying any punter with a fiver - and optimism - to spare. At least one gamble already seems to have gone awry with Daring Destiny, second-favourite in most lists yesterday morning, booked into stall 29, and with a low draw probably all but essential, the whittling process should start with the elimination of anything starting higher than 20.

This removes such otherwise supportable animals as Numbered Account, Carranita and Saint Express, while Double Blue, in five, may not appreciate the ground. Thousla Rock, the likely favourite, looks good in stall nine, but at the odds it may be worth chancing Neither Nor and Gary Carter, who will depart from box 12. The mare has been aimed at today's race almost from birth.

The Irish St Leger has not merited its description as a Classic since older horses were allowed in a few years ago, but their arrival has improved the race significantly. Vintage Crop's success in the Melbourne Cup may also give it a new lease of life, as a trial for Australia's greatest race in the first week of November.

Vintage Crop, last year's winner, returns today for his final outing before flying south, though he may be saying au revoir rather than goodbye to two of his seven rivals, Cliveden Gail and My Patriarch, both of whom hold entries for Flemington. Dermot Weld has expressed disappointment with the weight alloted to Vintage Crop by the Australian handicappers, but after today's race at The Curragh, it might appear lenient.

The final recognised Arc trial, the Prix du Prince d'Orange at Longchamp tomorrow, sees the unbeaten three-year-old Millkom taking on seven rivals. Anything but victory for Jean-Claude Rouget's colt would be a major surprise, but the keenest interest will be in how he finishes. Breeding experts claim that Millkom's pedigree lacks stamina, but if he runs on all the way to the line tomorrow, current Arc quotes of around 14-1 (he was 25-1 two weeks ago) will fade away faster than the Cheshire Cat.

Yesterday's results, page 23

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