Racing: Lujain has run of Park

TWO IMPORTANT pieces of information emerged within the space of a few minutes at Newmarket yesterday, the first of them being that Lujain is one of the most talented colts of his generation. The second, though, may carry even more significance with next year's 2,000 Guineas in mind. Lujain travelled well, quickened even better and won the Group One Middle Park Stakes by four lengths. No sooner had he passed the post, though, than Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, appeared on Channel 4 Racing to tell the nation that, in his opinion, the Prix de la Salamandre winner, Aljabr, is a better racehorse still.

For all his influence and expertise, Crisford still dwells on the mortal side of omnipotence, and is more than capable of making the odd mistake. There seemed little reason to argue with his opinion, though - it included the words "without a doubt" - and while Lujain ran yesterday in Sheikh Mohammed's old maroon and white silks, he will winter in Dubai and carry the royal blue of Godolphin next year. Crisford will presumably have taken a close interest in his progress to date, and impressive though yesterday's victory was, it still seems that Lujain has some catching up to do.

Who knows, if Aljabr does indeed turn out to be the better horse, Lujain might not run at Newmarket at all. Then again, Sheikh Mohammed himself implied after yesterday's race that Lujain will be the one for Newmarket, so maybe it will be Aljabr who is saved for other assignments. Or both could run, or neither, if a dark horse emerges from Godolphin's extensive stables. All this is, of course, nothing more than wild speculation with the Guineas meeting six months' distant, but it is also the sort of uncertainty which punters should always bear in mind before they dabble in the ante- post Classic markets.

That said, if anyone ever stopped to consider all the things which can go wrong with a racehorse over the course of half a year, ante-post betting would die out overnight. Instead, there will probably be no shortage of optimists prepared to take the 8-1 offered by the Tote against Lujain winning the Newmarket Classic next year, and overlook as they do so not just Crisford's opinion, but also some reasonable doubts about whether Lujain will stay a truly-run mile next year.

Not that they are shared by his trainer. "I thought at the Guineas meeting that he could be the champion two-year-old this year," Loder said. "It is the way he does everything. He is an impressive horse. I think he will stay, his pedigree suggests he should stay at least a mile and his temperament is a big help. Today to me it looked as though he could have kept on going."

Aljabr, who beat Stravinsky at Longchamp earlier this month in what was surely the strongest two-year-old contest of the season so far, is also an 8-1 chance for the Guineas, with Coral, while Stravinsky, whose run in Paris proved him to be much more than just a talking horse, is a 7- 1 chance with the same firm. The next horse in the list, at 14-1, is Henry Cecil's Enrique, who contests the Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket today, when Berlioz, another of David Loder's exceptional band of two- year-olds, is likely to be his most serious opponent.

Enrique won impressively enough on his debut at Glorious Goodwood to suggest that he is up to today's assignment, although he will not be a backable price. HARMONIC WAY (nap 2.35), though, is worth an interest, while Clerkenwell (2.05) should also go close.

A field of 14 is now expected for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday, after yesterday's supplementary stage saw the addition of Sea Wave, Leggera and Limpid to the field. All three late arrivals were widely expected, as was the withdrawal of Daylami, the Eclipse Stakes winner.

Andre Fabre will send three runners to post, with Limpid and Sagamix now to be joined by Fragrant Mix, the winner of the Grand Prix de Saint- Cloud. The punting money yesterday, though, was for Leggera, the Prix Vermeille winner, who attracted a bet of pounds 25,000 to pounds 1,000 with Coral. Her odds were quickly cut to 16-1.

2,000 Guineas: (Newmarket, May 1999) Coral: 6-1 Lujain, 7-1 Stravinsky, 8-1 Aljabr, 14-1 Orpen, 16-1 Enrique, Killer Instinct, 20-1 others. William Hill: 6-1 Stravinsky, 7-1 Aljabr, Lujain, 14-1 Enrique, 16-1 Killer Instinct, 20-1 Auction House, Commander Collins, Josr Algarhoud, Orpen, 33-1 Ballet Master, Berlioz, Brancaster, Coliseum, Glamis, High King, Irish Prize, Markan, Montjeu, Mus-If, Mukhalif, Mutaahab, Rhagaas, Saffron Walden, Slickly, Tchaikovsky, Touch 'N Fly, 40-1 others

Cambridgeshire Handicap: (Newmarket, tomorrow). Coral: 8-1 Pasternak, 9-1 Supply And Demand, Dokos, 12-1 Silk St John, 14-1 Almond Rock, 16- 1 Prince Of My Heart, 20-1 Brilliant Red, For Your Eyes Only, Gulf Shaadi, 25-1 others. William Hill: 7-1 Dokos, 8-1 Pasternak, Supply And Demand, 11-1 Silk St John, 14-1 Almond Rock, 16-1 For Your Eyes Only, 20-1 Gulf Shadi, Hunters Of Brora, 25-1 Another Time, Brilliant Red, King Of Tunes, Prince Of My Heart, Tonights Prize, 33-1 others.

Cesarewitch Handicap: (Newmarket, 17 October) Coral: 5-1 Lord Lamb, 8- 1 On Call, 10-1 Tarashaan, 12-1 Sandbaggedagain, Turnpole, Spirit Of Love, 16-1 Spunkie, Grimshaw, San Sebastian, Shooting Light, 20-1 others. William Hill: 5-1 Lord Lamb, 10-1 On Call, Spirit Of Love, Turnpole, 12-1 San Sebastian, 14-1 Nanton Point, Sandbaggedagain, Spunkie, 16-1 Bold Gait, Cyrian, Tarashan, 20-1 others.

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