Racing: Hern may try major tactics

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The Independent Online
Alhaarth may be escorted by two of his mates to try to make sure he is not beaten at Newmarket on Saturday. Three potential pacemakers for the favourite stood their ground among a total of 18 colts left in the 2,000 Guineas at yesterday's five-day acceptance stage.

Hamdan Al Maktoum, who owns Alhaarth, also left in Mawwal, Elshabiba and Masehaab. It could be that two of these will actually run to ensure Saturday's tactical battle is won by Dick Hern's colt.

Such a move would recall one of the most dramatic moments of British racing history when, 21 years ago, Hern ran two horses to make the running for his Bustino in the 1975 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The tactic failed to stop Grundy winning an epic duel, but did result in a record time.

Mawwal is from Robert Armstrong's yard while Elshabiba and Masehaab are from the stable of John Dunlop, who also happens to train Beauchamp King, for Erik Penser.

It was Beauchamp King who took away Alhaarth's unbeaten record in the Craven Stakes two weeks ago when the latter fought for his head, refusing to settle. The fact that three possible pacemakers still hold entries for the 2,000 Guineas could indicate that Hern's colt has not yet proved amenable to restraint in home gallops.

Which of Sheikh Hamdan's other three actually accompanies the favourite to post is a decision he can afford to take his time over. His racing manager, Angus Gold, said yesterday: "Nothing has been sorted out yet. Sheikh Hamdan said to leave all the horses in and we will talk about it later in the week." Willie Carson will ride Alhaarth, while Richard Hills is on standby for one of the Sheikh's other runners.

Richard Hannon is seeking a jockey for his 25-1 Guineas hope Regiment. John Reid, who won the Easter Stakes at Kempton on the colt's reappearance, rides Beauchamp King. Richard Quinn, who had been lined up for Regiment, has instead been claimed by Paul Cole to ride Leonine, who was on offer with Ladbrokes yesterday at 66-1.

Quinn could be forgiven for being unhappy about this. The jockey believes Regiment has an excellent each-way chance. ''He's a horse I would have liked to ride in the Guineas,'' he said yesterday. ''He's had three runs in his life, has won two of them and can only improve on his Kempton performance.''

Leonine, a York maiden winner last year who has not run so far this season, is a second-string for owner Fahd Salman, whose main 2,000 Guineas runner is Storm Trooper, trained by Henry Cecil.

Storm Trooper had been heavily backed in the past week but Ladbrokes yesterday eased the colt out to 10-1 from 8-1, partially in response to reports that he had been outpointed in a home gallop at the weekend by stablemate Phantom Quest. This latter colt was trounced in a maiden event at Newbury 10 days ago.

Perhaps significantly, Ladbrokes cut the odds for Barry Hill's challenger Royal Applause from 10-1 to 8-1.

On the 1,000 Guineas front, no adverse reports followed a home gallop yesterday by Cecil's hot favourite Bosra Sham. The filly is now set to face a maximum of 14 rivals in Sunday's big race at Newmarket.

She continued her recovery from a minor setback - a bruised a foot last Thursday - with a final piece of serious work on the Limekilns. Cecil said later: "She worked nicely. Everything so far is going satisfactorily."

Frankie Dettori is a possible partner for Maid For The Hills after his intended mount, Phantom Creek, was pulled from the 1,000. Speaking at Kempton yesterday, the filly's owner, Chris Brasher said: "We are hoping to get Frankie to ride ours but nothing has yet been confirmed."

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