Racing: Fast ground gives Bold extra edge

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The Independent Online
SOMETIMES YOU have to wonder whether members of the Godolphin team ever feel a little bored by their long and continuous run of success. So far this Flat season, the royal blue colours have won 11 Group One races, which is roughly one every 13 days. This weekend there are three more, two of which include a Godolphin runner with outstanding chances. If both are winners, do not be surprised if the stable lads leading them in appear to be stifling yawns.

Diktat is the first into the firing line, in the Sprint Cup at Haydock this afternoon, when he will face 15 rivals, the biggest field in the contest's 33-year history. Despite the bloated line-up, though, and the distinct possibility that the better horses will find traffic problems, it is hard to see beyond four names as credible winners. Any other result will require an outsider to suddenly discover form it has managed to keep well hidden for months or years.

Diktat is racing at six furlongs for the first time, having won the Group One Prix Maurice du Gheest over six and a half at Deauville last time. He has always shown so much speed, though, that this should not trouble him. What might cause problems, on the other hand, is the fast surface he is likely to encounter this afternoon. Saeed bin Suroor, his trainer, admitted earlier this week that he would like good ground for Diktat, and he is going to be disappointed.

It is enough of a worry to make Diktat bad value at around 2-1, but it is harder to overlook the claims of Arkadian Hero. Luca Cumani's colt has produced the most impressive form of his life in his last two starts, and needs fast ground to produce his best.

His short odds make less sense, though, when you look back a little further, to his fourth place in the July Cup. Bold Edge and Bertolini both finished ahead of Arkadian Hero at Newmarket, and yet both are available at double the price.

This is plainly daft, and BOLD EDGE (nap 3.00) in particular seems to have been underestimated by the bookies. He has run poorly twice this year, once over five furlongs, and once on soft ground at York in May. Over six on fast going, however, his form is impeccable. He was second to the brilliant Stravinsky at Newmarket, and beat Russian Revival in the Cork & Orrery at Royal Ascot. Next time out, Russian Revival put up one of the finest weight-carrying performances of recent years in the International Handicap at Ascot. With ideal conditions, and 8-1 against his name, Bold Edge is an outstanding bet.

The Sprint Cup is by some way the day's most interesting race, which makes it all the more strange that it has been left out of the Tote's scoop6 bet. Instead, they have chosen to go with Channel 4, who cover four races from Epsom, and two from that well-known hotbed of high-class racing, Thirsk.

Normally, punters would be delighted to find just two winners from half a dozen, but several of today's fields have cut up and more backers than usual will fancy their chances. Suggestions include the well-drawn Tuscan Dawn (3.05) in the sprint at Epsom, and Khibrah (4.10), who has winning form over a switchback track at Brighton. Celebrate (3.20) should go well at Thirsk, while Blueprint (3.40), in Epsom's September Stakes, looks to be a banker.

The race which matters to last week's two scoop6 winners is the Hambleton Cup at Thirsk. Finding the winner there will secure them at least a share of the bonus pool of pounds 223,000, and Desert Fighter (4.25) could be the one. His recent victories have all come in claimers, but in a manner which suggests he can still be a winner back in handicap company.

The big races abroad this weekend are both run tomorrow. In the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp, Godolphin's Aljabr meets the horse who beat him by a length and a quarter in the St James's Palace Stakes, Sendawar. Aljabr was making his seasonal debut at Ascot, though, and has since won the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. He should have the French colt's beating tomorrow.

In the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, a strong British challenge is led by Littlefeather (Sir Mark Prescott), Fairy Gem (Richard Hannon) and the Cherry Hinton Stakes winner, Torgau (Giles Bravery). Amethyst is Aidan O'Brien's chosen runner, despite finishing second at odds of 1-4 last time out, while John Oxx will saddle Mandama.