Racing: Hernando lays down Arc challenge: The 1993 French Derby winner heads Longchamp market, while Bell strikes with Hoh Magic

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The Independent Online
IF THE uninspiring collection of minor celebrities at Sandown's Variety Club day on Saturday was a little too much for some racing fans to bear, there was at least the consolation that, at Deauville, a genuine star was announcing his return to the big time.

Hernando, the 1993 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) winner, took the Prix Gontaut- Biron with such ease that he is now the new favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Yesterday, meanwhile, Michael Bell carried almost pounds 100,000 back through customs after his Hoh Magic took the Group One Prix Morny at the Normandy course, the first British runner to do so since My Swallow in 1970.

Ridden by Michael Hills, whose luck was due a change after his disqualification from first place in Thursday's Nunthorpe Stakes, Hoh Magic produced a striking burst of speed in the last of the six furlongs to beat the Italian-trained Bruttina by one and a half lengths, with Andre Fabre's Tereshkova, the favourite, in third. Mick Channon, who claimed the Nunthorpe with Piccolo after Blue Siren's misfortune, had to settle for fourth with Silca Blanka.

It is to be hoped that Hoh Magic's jaunt to Deauville did not give her the travel bug, since her next three races are likely to be run down Newmarket's Rowley Mile, just a few hundred yards from Bell's stable. 'She is going to be trained for the 1,000 Guineas,' the trainer said, 'and her next race is likely to be the Cheveley Park Stakes. Then we'll probably start her off next year in something like the Nell Gwyn.'

The leading bookmakers differ about Hoh Magic's chance in the first Classic of 1995, with quotes ranging from 20-1 with Ladbrokes up to 33-1 with William Hill. The latter's representatives doubt her ability to stay a mile, since her sire is the sprinter Cadeaux Genereux, though Bell pointed out yesterday that 'she has plenty of stamina on her dam's side'. But whether or not Hoh Magic does provide Bell with his first British Classic winner, the filly has already earned a special place in his heart. 'This is my first Group One winner,' he said, 'it's very special for me.'

There was less dissent between the layers after Hernando's success on Saturday, and both Ladbrokes and William Hill now offer just 6-1 about Francois Boutin's colt for the Arc. Boutin is certainly taking care with his preparation and if, as is planned, Hernando goes to the Breeders' Cup after running in the Arc, it will be only his fourth race of the season (the Prix Foy at Longchamp next month is his next assignment).

The Foy is also the anticipated Arc prep for Only Royale, the impressive winner of last week's Yorkshire Oaks, and Luca Cumani's filly is, with White Muzzle, Hernando's closest rival in Hill's betting. Both are offered at 8-1, with Apple Tree and King's Theatre 10-1 chances.

Cumani too returned from Deauville better off, after saddling Relatively Special to finish second and pick up pounds 28,000 in an unusually valuable Listed race. Arcadian Heights and Shambo, though, could finish only third and fourth to Molesnes in the five- runner Prix Kergorlay.


1. HOH MAGIC chestnut filly Cadeaux Genereux - Gunner's Belle M Hills

2. Bruttina M Pasquale

3. Tereshkova T Jarnet

Also ran: Silca Blanka (4th), Batista (5th), Expelled (6th).

6 ran. 1 1/2 , 1. (M Bell, Newmarket, for D Allport). Pari-mutuel: 3.40; 2.40, 3.10. SF 31.90. NR: Flowerdrum.


1. MOLESNES bay filly Alleged - Welsh Garden O Peslier

2. Epaphos C Asmussen

3. Arcadian Heights L Dettori

Also ran: Shambo (4th), Turners Hill (5th).

5 ran. 3/4 , 3/4 . (M Rolland, France, for M Perret). Pari-mutuel: 5.30; 2.00, 1.80. SF 16.60.

(Photograph omitted)