Racing: Zafonic meets his first defeat: Guineas favourite bogged down

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The Independent Online
SHOCK, and shock of an apocalyptic nature, completed its racing treble yesterday when, following the Grand National fiasco and Peter Scudamore's retirement announcement, Zafonic surrendered his unbeaten record.

Andre Fabre's colt, the winter favourite for the 2,000 Guineas, went down in the Prix Djebel by a short- head to Kingmambo, whom he had beaten twice last season, with his pacemaker, Kashani, just another short-head further away in third.

Kingmambo, who may now travel to Newmarket for the first colts' Classic, ran in blinkers last year as his eyes had a tendency to water. The only ducts open yesterday belonged to those who had forced Zafonic down to evens for the Guineas.

The colt, whose boisterous behaviour on the Chantilly gallops had caused concern earlier this year, behaved like a lamb before and during yesterday's race.

Pat Eddery, his rider, had two versions of this disappointing effort. 'He had every chance, but he just wasn't good enough,' was the jockey's first assessment before he joined the huddle of connections.

Afterwards, the Irishman had been supplied with mitigation aplenty. 'The conditions were against him and he pulled hard early on,' Eddery said. 'We went for about a furlong and then we just stopped.

'I was very easy on the horse, and if I had given him a hard time he would probably have won. The others were running their Guineas today, and in three weeks it could be different.

'Last year he was exceptional and you cannot knock him for just one race. He wasn't very impressive on this (heavy) ground last year.'

Fabre, who said that Zafonic would still be a contender on the Rowley Mile on 1 May, was less magnanimous 30 minutes later when Thierry Jarnet executed puzzling tactics on his Elizabeth Bay in the Prix Imprudence.

Jarnet pushed his mount up the rail until he almost collided with another runner. By the time he found a clearer channel, Cash Asmussen, also successful on Kingmambo, had made the decisive burst with Wixon. Elizabeth Bay was neverthless reduced in all books for the 1,000 Guineas having shown startling acceleration to get back into the race.

2,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 1 May): Coral: 5-1 Barathea, 10-1 Armiger & Chaddleworth, 12-1 Placerville, Wharf & Serious, 16-1 others; Ladbrokes: 2-1 Zafonic, 5-1 Barathea, 7-1 Wharf, 10-1 Basim & Placerville, 12-1 Chaddleworth, 16-1 others; William Hill: 7-4 Zafonic, 9-2 Barathea, 8-1 Armiger, 10-1 Chaddleworth, 14-1 Wharf, 16-1 Beggarman Thief, Kingmambo, Placerville & Serious, 20-1 others.

1,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 29 April): Coral: 6-4 Sayyedati, 7-1 Elizabeth Bay, 10-1 Bashayer, 14-1 others; Ladbrokes: 2-1 Sayyedati, 5-1 Elizabeth Bay, 10-1 Bashayer, 16-1 others; William Hill: 7-4 Sayyedati, 11- 2 Elizabeth Bay, 10-1 Bashayer, 14-1 Dayflower, 16-1 others.

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