Racing: Pentad to whet Dettori's appetite

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The Independent Online
After three days at York, and in particular a Nunthorpe Stakes which provided enough drama for an entire month of meetings, it is hardly surprising that decent horses are thin on the ground at Goodwood today.

Just four will go to post for the Celebration Mile, forcing those who prefer quality to pin-sticking in big fields of handicappers to look abroad for an interest, notably to the Prix Morny, one of France's most significant juvenile events, at Deauville tomorrow. Allied Forces, meanwhile, will represent the British-based end of the Godolphin organisation in the Arlington Million in Chicago, with Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

It will be a busy weekend for the Italian, who fits in his trip to the United States while also attempting to haul himself past Kieren Fallon in the race for the jockeys' championship. The head-to-head between the two - Pat Eddery, the third challenger, is riding in France - will be an added attraction for the Sussex crowd. Only Dettori has a ride in the Celebration Mile, however, in which he and Cape Cross must try to overcome a white-hot favourite in Among Men.

Among Men was beaten for the first time in his four-race career over this course and distance last time, but as the event in question was the Sussex Stakes his performance hardly counts as a desperate failure for one with no previous experience at Group One level.

But only the foolhardy will stride into Goodwood's betting ring to have a lumpy bet on the favourite since Michael Stoute's runner did not appear entirely at home on the downland gradients that day. That is reason enough to leave him alone at cramped odds. Dettori is not without a chance on Cape Cross, who is a course winner, but for betting purposes this race makes little appeal.

In terms of prestige, the main supporting race is the March Stakes, which in theory at least is a St Leger trial. Thanks to the BBC, punters now have a new theory as to how it acquired its name: you will have to march down to the local betting shop if you want to see it live. Quite why the broadcasters are unable to cover a race at 2.15 on Saturday afternoon - they manage to do so, after all, most weekends of the year - is anyone's guess, not least when it is sponsored by another arm of their organisation, Radio Five.

This year the loss is tolerable with another small field - and only two, Palio Sky and Book At Bedtime, are entered in the Doncaster Classic. Any of the five runners could conceivably win, but Pentad (2.15) should get Dettori's day off to an ideal start.

More interesting for backers are the two televised handicaps, and here the honours may be shared between Fallon and Dettori. Dancing Image will surely start favourite for the Crowson Rated Handicap, and deserves to do so after a smooth win over course and distance three weeks ago.

However, that contest was not a handicap and today's opposition looks far more demanding. In particular KING OF PERU (nap 2.45), another with excellent winning form at the track, will offer value after an excellent run in the Stewards' Cup. He should do even better today with an extra furlong to travel, and another who ran well in the same race, Faraway Lass (next best 3.15), appears to have the sprint handicap at her mercy.

Dettori might have expected to partner Desert Prince, the sole British- trained runner in tomorrow's Prix Morny, if he was not going to be in America. Instead, it is Fallon who will attempt to give David Loder his second successive win in the Group One race, a mission in which he may well succeed given Desert Prince's excellent second place in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Heeremandi (John Reid) will represent Aidan O'Brien in the same race, but the favourite will surely be Andre Fabre's Xaar. Classic Cliche, Chief Contender, Orchestra Stall and Persian Punch represent Britain in the Group Two Prix Kergorlay.

In Chicago, Allied Forces is an 8-1 chance with the local bookmakers to beat eight rivals, with Sandpit, who was the beaten favourite in the same race 12 months ago, likely to head the market again at around 5-2. Dettori will also partner Always Loyal, Criquette Head's French 1,000 Guineas winner, in the Beverley D Stakes on the same card.