Racing: Quirky Circle may round on her detractors

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The Independent Online
QUIRKY, OR not quirky. That is just one puzzle to trouble punters in Goodwood's main race, the televised Prestige Stakes, today. Circle Of Gold, likely to be the strong favourite, has had her attitude put in doubt by racing's form gurus Timeform.

Timeform's Black Book comments favourably on the filly's win at Newbury a fortnight ago , but added that she was ``again looking a bit quirky''. The organisation came to this conclusion after she deviated from a straight line in the closing stages - something they say she also did on her debut, noting that she tended to ``carry her head high'' and edged right.

John Reid has ridden Circle Of Gold in both her races and is in the saddle again this afternoon. Is she quirky? ``Not true,'' Reid retorted last night. ``She is genuine. She's perfectly well behaved.''

Circle Of Gold, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, was an expensive failure on her racecourse debut at Ascot five weeks ago. Backed into 8-11 on the strength of reports of home gallops at Manton, she was caught close home by Cape Grace and beaten a short-head.

Circle Of Gold was again a heavily-backed odds-on shot when reappearing at Newbury. That time she won easily. Reid sounded confident last night of adding another victory at Goodwood today. ``She must have a great chance,'' he said. ``She needed her first run but did everything right at Newbury last time. I like her a lot.''

Chapple-Hyam saddles another contender in the same contest - Kiss Me Goodnight. This filly, to be ridden by Robert Havlin, won a minor event at Chepstow on her debut at the start of July. Reid dismissed any idea that she is in the field to ensure a strong gallop for her stablemate. ``The form of that Chepstow race is actually pretty good and Kiss Me Goodnight will be running on her own merits. She's good, but I think my filly is better.''

At this Goodwood meeting a year ago Pat Eddery rode a double. But his name - along with those of British racing's other top jockeys - Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon - will continue to be missing from racecards today and tomorrow.

Eddery will be pottering about on his farm, while Dettori pursues PR work in London. Fallon is said to be making a trip to Co Clare to see a hurling match. All three picked up bans at York last week, can ride on Sunday, but resume their suspensions on Monday.