Racing: Multicoloured sets the tone

Sir Michael Stoute's charge provides good omen for today's big race. By Sue Montgomery at Newbury
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SIR MICHAEL Stoute warmed up for his attempt to land this afternoon's Group One Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, for which his charge Among Men is likely to start favourite, by taking the Group Two feature, the Geoffrey Freer Stakes, here yesterday with a less-fancied contender, Multicoloured.

The five-year-old entire, who has excitable tendencies and wears a net muzzle to the start to kid him into not pulling at his jockey, was given a top-class ride by Willie Ryan, who settled him in front and had slipped his field to the extent of a dozen lengths by the home turn.

He gave his mount, a 10-1 chance, a breather half-way down the long straight but held his nerve as his opponents closed and let Multicoloured find enough of a second wind to dig in and repel the persistent closing-stages challenge of Silver Patriarch, the favourite, and Pat Eddery by three- quarters of a length.

Ryan has proved before that he can judge pace to perfection, most notably when pinching last year's Derby on Benny The Dip. The runners-up then were, of course, the hapless Silver Patriarch and Eddery.

Multicoloured, owned by Lord Weinstock, will stick to Group Two company next time, when he is off to the seaside a fortnight today for the Grand Prix over Deauville's extended mile and a half. Stoute said: "The plan was to let him enjoy himself in front. Willie gave him a super ride, but credit to the horse too for finding enough to stay there."

The much-touted newcomer Crystal Charm had to settle for second place to the more experienced Amazing Dream in the St Hugh's Stakes, but her connections were neither dismayed nor surprised by her defeat. The grey filly, who was bred by her joint-owner Ivan Allen, has the pedigree to stay considerably further than yesterday's five-furlongs and there are many smaller steeplechasers in training.

For one of her size and scope she showed a deal of speed - to the extent of running a bit too freely - and though she saw off the challenge of Riberac had no answer to Amazing Dream's finishing burst inside the final half-furlong. But those who have already backed her for next year's 1,000 Guineas should not tear up their tickets yet.

Amazing Dream booked hers for the pounds 100,000 Tattersalls Breeders Stakes at Fairyhouse later this month, a contest which her connections - the trainer Richard Hannon and the owners Peter, Pam and Paul Jubert - won last year with Another Fantasy.

There could hardly be a better example of racing's internationalism than today's Prix Jacques le Marois. Three French-trained horses defend the pounds 100,000 Group One prize against a trio of raiders from Britain and one each from Germany and Japan.

Of the home side, only Miss Berbere, who is to be ridden by a Japanese, was foaled in France. The only native among the British challengers is Lend A Hand; Cape Cross (who spends his winters in Dubai and is the mount of an Italian) and Among Men are US-bred. Waky Nao, representing Germany, was foaled in Britain and is ridden by a Hong Kong-based jockey. And Taiki Shuttle, for Japan, was born, bred and bought in Kentucky.

The last-named's compatriot Seeking The Pearl, who also carries the USA suffix, broke new ground a week ago in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest over six and a half furlongs as the first Japanese-trained top-level winner in Europe.

But it has already been established that horses can flit round the globe and compete successfully; what will be of lasting significance will be the moment when products of the Japanese breeding industry, in which countless millions in any currency have been invested, start to come on line in the international arena.

Taiki Shuttle has won his last six races and is regarded as Seeking The Pearl's superior back home but will need to be to make it a double for the shores of Nippon.

His chief opposition is likely to come from a horse at least resident in the country that gave the Thoroughbred to the world. Among Men came of age in the Sussex Stakes last month when he finally justified his trainer's high estimation of his potential as an athlete, and can take another step towards the miling crown.

There seems no logical reason why either Lend A Hand, who was third to him at Goodwood, or Cape Cross, fifth when he was second in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, should turn the tables. But what will be of interest to the Godolphin team is to try to gauge how much Among Men may have improved since Ascot, when he was trounced by the Dubai-based team's Intikhab, who is missing today because of injury but on the form book is the champion-elect of the division.

One reputation may be enhanced at Deauville today but another was hardly redeemed there yesterday, when Xaar, last season's champion two-year-old, could finish only second in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano, beaten fair and square a length and a half as Kabool took his unbeaten run to four.

The winner, one of Godolphin's improvers, heads for next month's Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown; Xaar may meet him again there, but a step up to a mile and a half in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is also a possibility for the fallen star.

However, the Empire struck back at the Curragh. Second Empire, another of last year's leading two-year-olds who was on the comeback trail, atoned a little bit for his dismal Derby performance by beating Centre Stalls with easy aplomb in the Desmond Stakes.