Racing: Master's day to prove he has the gift

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The Independent Online
ALL HORSES cause bubbles to burst one way or another. Today is the turn for Ballet Master, at Sandown. He can either puncture his own reputation or perform thrillingly and ease the cork from the throat of a champagne bottle. He can be either a Killer Instinct or an Enrique.

Henry Cecil's colt faces just five opponents in Esher's opening event this afternoon and will be a short price to cement his position in the 2,000 Guineas market, in which he stands at 12-1 with William Hill.

A lot has been expected from Ballet Master from the time he was just a speck on a pregnancy scan. He is bred to be special, with Kingmambo as his father and his mum a Group-winning half-sister to Salsabil and Marju. He was born with silver shoes on his feet.

The chestnut need not worry that his tuition fees at Warren Place can be met. He is owned jointly by Michael Tabor, Sue Magnier and the Niarchos family, none of whom are much interested in laying one out for the seller at Beverley.

Everything about him is big, including the inevitable reports of hooves causing bushfires on the Newmarket trial grounds. Ballet Master worked with distinction on Waterhall's Line Gallop on Saturday morning in the hands of Willie Ryan. The colt was plopped into a piece of work with his fellow three-year-olds Modus Operandi and Pythios and left them four lengths adrift.

However, the only piece of paid employment Ballet Master has ever undertaken was at Yarmouth last October, when he thrashed a field of no-hopers. He is reported to have filled out over the winter (though not half as much as your correspondent) and those in his corner believe their horse will need the race today. "His run should bring him on a lot," Kieren Fallon, his jockey, said yesterday, "but he did a real good piece of work the other morning and he should run very well. He's a nice type with a great attitude and he has a big future."

Aidan O'Brien conducts his serious sifting for the first Classics at Ballydoyle this morning, when Michael Kinane will ride Orpen and Sunspangled, the stable's principal hopes for the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas respectively. Another contender, Stravinsky, is a possible for the Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday, but his trainer is already looking to targets further ahead. "We have to start the process of sorting out our Derby horses as soon as we can," O'Brien said.

To this end, Festival Hall will compete in the Classic Trial at Sandown tomorrow. Cupid will run in the Chester Vase, while Saffron Waldon, a narrow winner at Leopardstown on Sunday, is likely to sidestep the Guineas and instead take in York's Dante Stakes.

Graham Bradley, though, will not be taking in any competitive racing for quite some time. The National Hunt jockey charged with conspiracy to cheat yesterday ruled out a High Court challenge to the Jockey Club's decision to suspend his licence. Bradley will not now be free to resume his career until after the slow-moving legal machinery has ground its way to his trial. "It's very doubtful because of the expenses involved and the chances of winning in the High Court," the jockey said yesterday. "A final decision won't be made until this evening but it is very doubtful."

Peter McCormick, Bradley's solicitor, added: "The factors that are taken into account are as follows: 1) the cost of taking a case to the High Court and the financial risk involved in the event he might be unsuccessful; 2) the fact that he has criminal proceedings at Bow Street Magistrates' Court pending and which require substantial resources in order to contest them; 3) the fact that the Jockey Club had allowed him to pursue a number of other activities still connected with racing and into which he will now channel his efforts.

"Graham will be concentrating his resources in contesting the criminal pro- ceedings and establishing his innocence at the earliest possible moment."

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