Racing: Putra to put Bin Suroor in shade

Richard Edmondson predicts a win for Paul Cole in today's 2,000 Guineas
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The Independent Online
The bespectacled leader looked a sorry figure yesterday. Saeed bin Suroor, the trainer of Godolphin's choice animals, may be considering that this is a campaign he will not dominate after the failure of his first two runners.

Haltarra and Tulipa were vanquished at Newmarket yesterday and punters who could bet virtually blind on animals that had matured under an Emirates sun in the early part of last season will now have to get more deeply involved in the weekend's Classic conundrums. Suddenly the prospects of Shamikh and Tycoon Todd in this afternoon's 2,000 Guineas, and Moonlight Paradise and Ocean Ridge in the fillies' equivalent tomorrow do not appear so outstanding.

It is fair to say that if Shamikh was trained by just about anyone else he would not occupy his current lofty shelf in the market. He ran just once last year, in victory in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, before being asked to pack his towel and lotions for a trip to the Gulf. Of all the Godolphin horses that have been residing in Dubai's equine Waldorf Astoria, the Al Quoz stables, he is thought to have benefited most from the pampering. The word is that he is considered as useful as last year's outstanding winner, Mark Of Esteem.

This is not to say that Shamikh will be the only horse arriving at Headquarters today on a surf of hyperbole. Entrepreneur's ears have probably been sizzling since there was snow on the ground such have been the prolonged and vociferous outpourings about his talents. The son of Sadler's Wells regularly works up a storm on the Newmarket gallops, and indeed did so before he was beaten on his seasonal debut last year. Entrepreneur looks poorly priced now, especially as Michael Stoute, his trainer, has always thought the Derby was more suitable.

The favourite is likely to be a horse who, unlike Entrepreneur, struggles to get out of a paper bag on the trial grounds. Someone has obviously pointed out to Revoque that the bit when your rider is not wearing silks and you compete with your room-mates is not the real thing. At home he is one small step up from useless.

When the juices flow at the racetrack he is a different beast altogether, however, and last year he harvested some of France's top juvenile events. This season Revoque was beaten in his prep race, Newbury's Greenham Stakes, but rather than creating despondency in his camp, he seemed to warm connections who considered their horse woefully under-prepared. It is difficult to picture any running of the race that does not have him in a significant position at the winning post.

It is hard, also, to get excited about the sole French challenger, Zamindar, as his trainer, Andre Fabre, is nothing like as stirred by him as he was his full brother, Zafonic. The Craven Stakes winner, Desert Story, is also difficult to fancy as the Stoute team only just about manage to squeeze in a mention of him as they are eulogising about Entrepreneur.

The one horse that looks seriously overpriced is Paul Cole's PUTRA (nap 3.40). The chestnut ran as if a tiger was in his slipstream on his debut at Sandown last year, taking the juvenile course record to pieces. Putra then beat good horses in a good race, the Lanson Champagne Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, despite his trainer's belief that he was inconvenienced by the course. He will not be saying that this afternoon. "He'll get the trip for sure and he'll like the straight track," Cole said. "We're quite pleased with everything and I would think we've got him as near as we can to 100 per cent."

The cop-out for tomorrow's 1,000 Guineas would be to say that it would fall to Henry Cecil. The man from Warren Place has three runners in the race and each has a retinue of followers, though Sleepytime is probably the best of the bunch. She may well be ridden close to the pace tomorrow as it is becoming clear that her long legs take a deal of unravelling.

Among Sleepytime's challengers are the Godolphin pairing (of which Ocean Ridge may be the better even though she is a longer price) and a visitor with seductive credentials in Pas de Reponse (4.20). The French filly won on her seasonal debut at Maisons-Laffitte, which was about as meaningful as a chat with Stanley Unwin, and more persuasive is her victory in the Cheveley Park Stakes at this course last autumn.

Pas de Reponse is reported to have improved physically so much over the winter that the query about her stamina is no longer brought up. In addition, her trainer, Criquette Head, has a splendid record in the race with wins from Ma Biche, Ravinella and Hatoof. In the land of New Labour it is likely to be the same old story tomorrow.

2,000 GUINEAS -10-YEAR-TALE

1987 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96

Fate of the favourites: 4 1 1 2 11 9 1 13 2 4

Winner's place in betting: 0 1 1 0 2 3 1 0 2 0

Starting-prices: 9-1 4-5 3-1 9-1 13-2 6-1 5-6 16-1 9-2 8-1

Winning draw/runners: 3/13 1/9 12/14 1/14 5/14 3/16 10/14 21/23 11/11 2/13

Profit or loss to pounds 1 stake: Favourites -pounds 2.37 Second Favourites +pounds 3.00

Percentage of winners placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in last race: 70%

Shortest-priced winner: Doyoun 4-5 (1988)

Longest-priced winner: Mister Baileys 16-1 (1994)

Top trainers: A Fabre -Zafonic (1993), Pennekamp (1995)

R Hannon -Don't Forget Me (1987), Tirol (1990)

Top jockey: W Carson -Don't Forget Me (1987), Nashwan (1989)

1,000 GUINEAS -10-YEAR-TALE

1987 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96

Fate of the favourites: 1 1 4 1 1 9 8 4 2 1

Winner's place in betting: 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 0 2 1

Starting-prices: 15-8 4-5 7-2 6-4 4-6 5-1 4-1 12-1 5-1 10-11

Winning draw/runners: 10/14 8/12 6/7 5/10 13/14 12/14 4/12 1/15 2/14 11/13

Profit or loss to pounds 1 stake: Favourites +pounds 0.75 Second Favourites +pounds 3.25

Percentage of winners placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in last race: 80%

Shortest-priced winner: Shadayid 4-6 (1991)

Longest-priced winner: Las Meninas 12-1 (1994)

Top trainers: Mme C Head -Ravinella (1988), Hatoof (1992)

J Dunlop -Salsabil (1990), Shadayid (1991)

Top jockey: W R Swinburn - Musical Bliss (1989), Hatoof (1992), Sayyedati (1993)

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