Racing: Mehthaaf best

MEHTHAAF survived a stewards' enquiry to land the Irish 1,000 Guineas at The Curragh yesterday, beating her Newmarket conqueror Las Meninas into second place. The John Dunlop-trained filly was the third successive British raider to score and, for good measure, Luca Cumani's Relatively Special was third.

Willie Carson settled the daughter of Nureyev in third place as the outsiders Salvezza and Dancing Action set a slow early pace. As the field swung into the straight Mehthaaf, on the rails, was in danger of becoming trapped as Relatively Special loomed on her outside, with Las Meninas, the favourite, covering her field wider still.

Just over two furlongs out a wavering gap opened between the two leaders, but Carson elected to get out of his predicament by moving sideways. As he pulled out round the pair in front of him, his filly's quarters cannoned into Relatively Special.

Once shown daylight, Mehthaaf, only fourth at Newmarket but now revelling in her favoured soft going, lengthened and quickened in style. Carson pushed her clear, and Las Meninas could not go with her. Morcote was fourth, doing her best work at the finish on her seasonal debut.

Fillies took centre stage in Britain as well as in Ireland. Conditions underfoot at Lingfield were atrocious, but Royal Ballerina, over from Ireland, splashed gamely through the wet mud to record a bloodless victory.

At Newmarket, Blue Siren forced the pace and put up a gutsy display to win the Charlotte Fillies Stakes, holding on well from fast-finishing Red Rita. The Bluebird filly, owned and trained by the Lochsong combination of Jeff Smith and Ian Balding, will now be stepped up to Pattern level. Ron Sheather, Smith's racing manager, reports the stable star in fine form for her run in the Temple Stakes at Sandown tomorrow week.

Another sprinter, the lightly raced Tabook, landed a successful gamble from 12-1 in the morning to 9-2 for his trainer Alex Scott in the Coral Sprint. The Cadeaux Genereux colt may try to emulate his sire, and another Scott trainee, Sheikh Albadou, in the William Hill Trophy at York next month.

Given the weather, it was appropriate that a steeplechase jockey opened the charity programme at Newmarket, where the day was devoted to fund- raising for field sports. Ronnie Beggan, who announced his retirement recently, made a quick comeback to steer Overpower to victory in the celebrity riders' race.

It was Beggan's first Flat winner in Britain, though he has been successful in Ireland. And his riding career is not quite over; the 31-year-old jockey holds the remarkable record of having ridden a winner at every jump course in Britain and Ireland bar one. He will be off to Hexham next week to try to rectify matters.

Earlier in the morning on the gallops, Khaled Abdullah's Derby hope Bal Harbour was again disappointing, well beaten by King's Theatre in a 10- furlong workout. John Gosden, on the mark with Laubali at the races, confirmed Linney Head an Epsom runner for Sheikh Mohammed; the colt was cut to 7-1 from 10-1 by Hills. The firm also reported money for Khamaseen, the John Dunlop- trained stablemate of the favourite Erhaab, and reduced his price from 50-1 to 40-1.

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