Racing: Shalford favourite

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THE PROSPECT of a meeting between the season's two top sprinters, Shalford and Sheikh Albadou, has stimulated the bookmakers into offering early prices on the July Cup, the centrepiece of next week's Newmarket meeting.

Ladbrokes have installed Shalford, who has shattered track records on his last two outings, as 5-2 favourite for next Thursday's race with the King's Stand Stakes winner, Sheikh Albadou, at 3-1.

Mr Brooks, a stable-mate of Shalford at Richard Hannon's yard and half a length behind Sheikh Albadou in the King's Stand Stakes at Ascot, is an 8-1 chance alongside Elbio and Pursuit Of Love. Wolfhound, who finished best of all to be fourth in the King's Stand, is 6-1.

Hannon's other classy sprinter, Central City, finished second in the Group Three Prix de Ris-Orangis at Evry yesterday behind Andre Fabre's Wedding Of The Sea. Amigo Menor, the other British challenger, battled for the early lead but faded to finish eighth of the nine runners.

While the July Cup has a competitive look to it, Saddlers' Hall has frightened off the opposition in the Princess of Wales's Stakes on the meeting's opening day. The top older horse over middle distances this year, heads an entry of just six horses for Tuesday's race.

Pine Bluff, winner of the Preakness Stakes, second leg of the US Triple Crown, and third to A P Indy in the Belmont, has been retired from racing due to injury.