Racing: Guineas favourite Theatre ready to play the king: The Craven winner's pre-race gallop can prove the perfect rehearsal for a performance that prevents Piggott getting in on the act

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The Independent Online
THE LEADING figure in present-day jockeyship, Pat Eddery, was yesterday removed from the 2,000 Guineas, which will nevertheless feature the big daddy of them all, Lester Piggott. He will be riding in the colts' mile Classic for the 36th time.

Eddery took an impressive legal team, led by the Labour peer Lord Irvine of Lairg, to Portman Square in an attempt to overturn his improper riding suspension picked up at Beverley nine days ago and subsequently free himself for this afternoon's Guineas. The pleadings, though, fell on deaf ears.

The appeal was not totally fruitless, as the Jockey Club's men ruled that their colleagues in Yorkshire had been wrong to disqualify Eddery's mount, Kings Cay, and reinstated the colt at the expense of Kandyan and Lanfranco Dettori, the jockeys' championship leader.

The man who has won that title 11 times, Lester Keith Piggott, goes for his sixth success in the Guineas today on the quietly fancied Suplizi. The 58-year-old has been riding for so long now that most of the original generation of housewives who are said to support him blindly is dead.

From riding 40-1 chances in his early Guineas forays, Piggott became the man who all trainers wanted on their horses. In his heyday of the 1970s, he almost invariably rode the favourite, and in 1974 he was on the beaten 4-9 shot, Apalachee.

Though much of his magic in the saddle has now slipped through the hour glass, the Long Fellow's record shows that he has been successful on two of his last four Guineas rides, through Shadeed (in 1985 and prior to temporary retirement) and Rodrigo De Triano two years ago. Thus many will be happy to support Suplizi, despite the fact that his partner has yet to ride a winner in Britainthis season.

Luca Cumani's colt produced an uncommon burst of acceleration in Newmarket's Guineas trial, the Craven Stakes, just over two weeks ago to overtake all but King's Theatre and Colonel Collins, who head the betting market.

The latter represents the 1,000 Guineas owner and jockey winning team of Robert Sangster and John Reid, and is trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, who has seen three horses from his yard elevated to 2,000 Guineas favouritism at some stage. Colonel Collins apart, the Manton market leaders have been Turtle Island, who was removed from the race yesterday because of the firm ground, and State Performer, part of a consignment bought by Sheikh Mohammed last year to winter under the Dubian sun.

In the wake of Thursday's marvellous performance from another of the batch, Balanchine, State Performer was well backed with William Hill yesterday, halving in price to 8-1.

Colonel Collins, though, was always thought to be the superior of the duo when they were stationed together, and connections were heartened by his Craven display. 'He hadn't been working particularly well at home and he didn't like the ground, so all in all he ran a great trial,' Reid said yesterday. 'I've an excellent chance.'

But though excitement is plentiful in the Chapple-Hyam camp, cold, analytical scrutiny of the form book says he cannot beat King's Theatre, who was a head in front last time they slugged up the Rowley Mile and, crucially, was conceding 5lb. The form for this race has more holes than a colander, but Henry Cecil's colt has sturdy performances at both two and three years to his name.

His trainer also considers him to be a better beast than when fighting off the swarming challengers in the Craven. 'I thought he would need the race in the Craven but he got away with it,' Cecil said. 'He's sure to improve for the run and be more effective in the 2,000 Guineas with a stronger pace.'

King's Theatre's final piece of work on Wednesday was conducted on the virgin turf of Newmarket's Limekilns gallops, which were opened for the first time this year to accommodate the town's Guineas horses. He pulled eight lengths clear of his galloping partner. His style of running (head down and let's get on with it) will also be an asset in a race of 23 runners, the largest field for this Classic since Zino led home 25 opponents 12 years ago.

And this afternoon may also conjure thoughts of a first Derby for the world's most powerful owner, Sheikh Mohammed. King's Theatre has always been looked on as a potential 12-furlong horse and if he wins today there will be immediate installation at the head of the Epsom list. 'At the moment, with his speed, he's a good horse,' Cecil said. 'But if he stays as well he could turn into a very good horse.'


Year Piggott's mount Odds Trainer Position Winner

1951 Manhattan 20-1 K Cundell 11th Ki Ming

1952 Gay Time 25-1 W Nightingall 18th Thunderhead II

1953 Windsor Star 40-1 M Beary 5th Nearula

1954 No ride Darius

1955 Time To Reason 40-1 A Budgett 9th Our Babu

1956 Final Court 25-1 P Nelson 11th Gilles De Retz

1957 Crepello 7-2 N Murless 1st Crepello

1958 Pinched 100-8 N Murless last Pall Mall

1959 Carnoustie 11-2 N Murless 3rd Taboun

1960 St Paddy 5-1 N Murless 6th Martial

1961 Pinturischio 7-4 N Murless 4th Rockavon

1962 Aznip 100-6 N Murless 7th Privy Councillor

1963 Moon Shot 25-1 N Murless 10th Only For Life

1964 No ride Baldric II

1965 Biomydrin 22-1 N Murless 19th Niksar

1966 Young Emperor 4-1 P Prendergast (Irl) 4th Kashmir II

1967 No ride Royal Palace

1968 Sir Ivor 11-8 M V O'Brien (Irl) 1st Sir Ivor

1969 Ribofilio 15-8 R J Houghton last Right Tack

1970 Nijinsky 4-7 M V O'Brien (Irl) 1st Nijinsky

1971 Minsky 15-2 M V O'Brien (Irl) 4th Brigadier Gerard

1972 Grey Mirage 5-1 W Marshall 8th High Top

1973 Thatch 5-2 M V O'Brien (Irl) 4th Mon Fils

1974 Apalachee 4-9 M V O'Brien (Irl) 3rd Nonoalco

1975 Mark Anthony 9-2 C Brittain 6th Bolkonski

1976 Loh 20-1 R Akehurst 14th Wollow

1977 The Minstrel 6-5 M V O'Brien (Irl) 3rd Nebbiolo

1978 Try My Best evens M V O'Brien (Irl) last Roland Gardens

1979 Jeroboam 11-1 H Wragg 9th Tap On Wood

1980 Night Alert 8-1 M V O'Brien (Irl) 3rd Known Fact

1981 Kind Of Hush 9-1 B Hills 13th To-Agori-Mou

1982 Rare Gift 12-1 J Sutcliffe 21st Zino

1983 Diesis 100-30 H Cecil 8th Lomond

1984 Keen 7-2 H Cecil 5th El Gran Senor

1985 Shadeed 4-5 M Stoute 1st Shadeed

1986 No ride, retired Dancing Brave

1987 No ride, retired Don't Forget Me

1988 No ride, retired Doyoun

1989 No ride, retired Nashwan

1990 No ride, retired Tirol

1991 Bog Trotter 11-1 W Haggas 12th Mystiko

1992 Rodrigo De Triano 6-1 P Chapple-Hyam 1st Rodrigo De Triano

1993 Silver Wizard 25-1 G Lewis 5th Zafonic

35 rides - 5 wins

Pre-tax loss to a pounds 1 stake if backing all Piggott's mounts - pounds 17.76

Longest-priced mounts - Windsor Star and Time To Reason (40-1)

Shortest-priced mount - Apalachee (4-9)

Eight rides for V O'Brien - 2 wins

Eight rides for N Murless - 1 win

Two rides for H Cecil, no more than one for any other trainer