Racing: Punters sniff out Perfume

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THERE is no rumour like a racecourse rumour. Their precise point of ignition is always a mystery but, fanned by strong gusts of greed, a good one can sweep through the betting ring in minutes. As a result, fingers in particular can be left badly burned.

Life is even harder for the backers when they are presented with a race such as the maiden which opened yesterday's card. While the gossips were claiming in one ear that the debutant Charnwood Forest was the best juvenile in Henry Cecil's yard, equally insistent voices in the other were sure that Green Perfume, despite finishing second on two previous runs, was the best at Paul Cole's. Less widespread, but there if you listened, were whispers for Takkatamm, from Michael Stoute's stable, and John Gosden's Merry Oaks.

Barring the sport's first quadruple dead-heat, only one group of supporters would be able to lean casually on the bar and say 'I told you so'. Merry Oaks was quickly beaten, so too Takkatamm soon afterwards, but until the furlong pole a close finish between Green Perfume and Charnwood Forest seemed likely. It was here that Green Perfume's experience told and he sped away to reward the faithful at 4-1.

In the enclosure afterwards, Cecil seemed more interested in the tie worn by Lord Pordes, joint-owner of Green Perfume, than the defeat of his 'best' two-year-old. 'He wants seven furlongs and he ran a super race,' the trainer said. 'I didn't expect him to win.' Charnwood Forest and Green Perfume are entered in the Dewhurst Stakes, and it would be no surprise to see the former reverse placings with an extra furlong and more experience on his side.

Yesterday's race may prove to be one of the season's most significant maidens, (last year's winner, Owington, is now a Group One performer), but quotes of around 33-1 about one of the protagonists taking the 1995 2,000 Guineas are still to be avoided. After all, Peter Chapple-Hyam's best juvenile is still at home. Michael Stoute's, too. At least, that's what they say.