Racing: Sabrehill switched to higher ground: Sparkling work persuades Cecil to hold an aspiring colt in reserve for more prestigious contest

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The Independent Online
HENRY CECIL has delivered the most telling condemnation of the standard of today's racing. The Newmarket trainer will not run Sabrehill in this afternoon's most valuable event, the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock, because the horse is too good to waste on the race.

After the chestnut colt had delivered a smooth piece of gallops work on Wednesday, Cecil decided the International Stakes at York later this month was a Group race more in keeping with Sabrehill's abilities.

Nevertheless, the colt is still likely to provide the most compelling action on a British racecourse today at Newmarket when he and Armiger work out as the losing tickets are being hoovered up.

Armiger has not run since losing his unbeaten record to Hernando in the Prix Lupin at Longchamp in May. Since then Armiger's owner, Khalid Abdullah, has seen his colts Tenby, Commander In Chief and Zafonic become tarnished articles and will be hoping his fourth musketeer can go the other way, starting with the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York's Ebor meeting.

Back at Haydock, the appeal of the Rose of Lancaster is hardly heightened by the fact that, with three runners, it offers the smallest field on a seven-card day. This means that Half A Tick, the winner here 12 months ago, will at least add something to lifetime earnings which are approaching pounds 250,000.

The five-year-old is one of a squadron of animals at Paul Cole's Whatcombe yard (Snurge, Ruby Tiger and Zoman are others) who has gone east, to the Continent, to earn the bulk of his winnings. Oddly, two-thirds of his pot has come in place money, a figure which should be strengthened this afternoon, as Knifebox (3.00), Half A Tick's emphatic conqueror at San Siro last October, is making his seasonal reappearance.

The deja vu Saturday sprint should go to the consistent Gorinsky (2.30), while HARLESTONE BROOK (nap 2.00) will test both his rivals and Willie Carson's capacity to trim himself to 7st 10lb.

One of Harlestone Brook's opponents is Viardot, the winner of an amateurs' race at Newmarket a week ago which saw most of the field suffering compass problems. There should be little room for repetition in today's amateur race at Headquarters as there is no bend to negotiate and all the field should finish on the same side of the running rail.

The lady jockeys' room at Newmarket this afternoon will seem like the backing group from a Coke advert, with amateur riders from around the world bringing a cosmopolitan flavour to the race. Among those at the reins will be Karin Schlick (the German amateur champion), Sandrine Tarrou (Thierry Jarnet's agent) and Olga Hulinska (the Prague-based winner of 36 races). The winners, though, are likely to be Takenhall (3.15) and the Pennsylvania artist Katherine Neilson.

Taghareed (3.45) and Storm Canyon (4.50), who finished second to Placerville and Barathea last season, should ensure the baubles for the Sweet Solera Stakes and televised maiden respectively are not taken too far away from the course, while nothing would give Reg Akehurst more pleasure than to thumb his nose at Headquarters via a success with Face North (next best 4.20).

The stardust that is around this weekend is reserved for Leopardstown, where Risky, Turtle Island, Fast Eddy and Gold Land are Britain's principal representatives in the Heinz '57' Phoenix Stakes tomorrow. Risky's participation depends on a going report, and, if the ground is soft enough, Richard Hannon's filly will take the Lorraine Chase route and fly from Luton airport this morning.

(Photograph omitted)