Racing: Four square up to Zafonic

ZAFONIC will face no more than four opponents in Tuesday's St James's Palace Stakes, the feature race on Royal Ascot's opening day - and one of those will be his pacemaker, Wharf.

The French colt's exceptional performance in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month has had a demoralising effect on Britain's trainers, and even Clive Brittain, never one to duck a fight, is considering diverting his Needle Gun to the King Edward VII Stakes later the same day. The two remaining five-day acceptors are Kingmambo, the only horse to have beaten Zafonic, and John Dunlop's Ventiquattrofogli.

Independent bookmakers A R Dennis, who priced up the race yesterday, are predictably cautious. They offer 2-7 about Zafonic, followed by 100-30 Kingmambo, 20-1 Wharf, 33-1 Needle Gun and 66-1 Ventiquattrofogli.

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