Racing: Peslier takes the Air at Ascot

With Entrepreneur, the favourite for Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, weak in the betting, Greg Wood pinpoints Air Express as an outsider which may be worth supporting. The 16-1 chance will be assisted by a top-class rider with the booking of Olivier
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The Independent Online
Before the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday all the attention will be on a horse who has won one Classic, but it is worth remembering that there will be another horse in the field who has won two. Entrepreneur, who beat Revoque in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, may well start favourite on Saturday, just as he did when beaten into fourth in the Derby. Air Express, by contrast, who won the equivalent Classic in both Italy and Germany before finishing second to Starborough over Saturday's course and distance at the Royal meeting, seems sure to set off at odds which are comfortably into double figures.

Not that that is ever likely to bother Clive Brittain, who runs his horses where he thinks they have a chance, regardless of what the bookies may say. There is plenty of 16-1 available about his representative, which will appeal in particular to those punters who believe a horse should always be forgiven one disappointing run.

In Air Express's case, this came in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, when he dropped away to finish seventh of nine to Ali-Royal, but his trainer has an explanation. "That race went completely wrong for him," Brittain said yesterday. "He was on the outside and was pushed wide and never got on a true leg. He was left out of it really, it was more the course that beat him than the opposition."

In his previous race, however, Air Express put up a performance which gives him every chance on Saturday. He may have started at 20-1 for the St James's Palace Stakes, but he was the only colt in a strong field who ever seemed likely to give Starborough a race, and was eventually beaten just a length. "He's had a nice break since Goodwood and he's fresh and well," Brittain says. "Olivier Peslier was booked to ride this morning, so we've got a top jockey and a horse in form, and he's got a very good chance. People forget he's won two Classics because they were in Germany and Italy, but you try to go to Germany now and win a race and you'll need an A1 horse."

Air Express is one of six three-year-olds in the nine-strong entry for the QEII, and Brittain believes the winner will come from this generation. "At this time of the year the three-year-olds which are progressing do tend to be a big factor at up to a mile," he says. "At a mile and a half I think the older horses can still hold them at bay."

Entrepreneur remains the clear favourite for Saturday's race with Coral, but drifted yesterday with several other firms. Michael Stoute's colt is now the 9-4 joint-favourite with Revoque in William Hill's betting, while at Ladbrokes, Revoque has actually displaced Entrepreneur at the head of the market. Peter Chapple-Hyam's runner, who returned to the track for the first time since the spring when winning a minor race at Doncaster's St Leger meeting, is 7-4, with Entrepreneur drifting to 2-1.

Another market mover was Allied Forces, the mount of Frankie Dettori, who won this race - and everything else - 12 months ago. Ladbrokes opened yesterday with 8-1 showing against Godolphin's runner, who won the Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting, but within a couple of hours he was down to 11-2. Bahhare (11-2 from 5-1) and Bijou D'Inde (16-1 from 33-1) were other changes at Hills.