Racing: Take Petardia to pip Zafonic

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The Independent Online
THE pervasive habit among racing commentators of applying the description 'potential superhorse' to any animal that has taken a decent juvenile race by more than three lengths has just one redeeming feature. In these harsh economic times, it is good to know that there is one currency even more devalued than sterling.

This fact does not seem to deter people from buying in, however. Andre Fabre's Zafonic, who arrives at Newmarket on Friday to contest the Dewhurst Stakes, is the latest example. Following his success in the Prix de la Salamandre, he was cut from a laughable 8-1 for next year's 2,000 Guineas to a frankly scandalous

5-2 today - seven months before the off. Even three-card tricksters offer you better odds than that, and with pretty much the same chance of success.

Thus it is no great surprise to find Zafonic installed 4-7 favourite by Hills for Friday's race. Time was when they would have offered a similar price about Vincent O'Brien's unbeaten colt Fatherland, so routinely did the great Irish trainer add the Dewhurst trophy to his cabinet, but he has provided several expensive flops in more recent years. The price that stands out, each- way, is the 8-1 about Petardia, already a winner in elevated company and, given the miserable bleakness of Newmarket racecourse, surely not supplemented for pounds 12,500 just because the owners fanced a trip to the track.

The huge autumn fields should deter any sane backer in the early part of the week - there are 312 entries at Leicester alone tomorrow - and thus provide some breathing space in which to prepare for next Saturday's Cesarewitch. Daru, at 9-2, is another hopelessly short-priced favourite, particularly since he is far from certain to stay the 18-furlong trip.

One whose stamina is not in doubt is Star Player, the 1991 Chester Cup winner, and even more appealingly he has the ability to change gear at the crucial moment. The general odds of 12-1 are too good to miss in what could prove to be a much less competitive renewal than is usual.