Naaqoos aims to emerge from pack

Though racing here has a rare day off on Friday, there is still an event of some significance to consider during the afternoon. Naaqoos, one of last year's top two-year-olds and one of a handful of horses jostling for position at the head of the market for the 2,000 Guineas, contests the Prix Djebel at the Parisian track Maisons-Laffitte and, should he prove decisively that his precocious ability remains intact, then the first Classic of the season will surely have a new favourite.

With no one colt standing obviously above the potential elite milers, the division is waiting to spring to life. Naaqoos, based in Chantilly with Freddy Head, proved himself top of the juvenile pile in France with his spirited success in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp six months ago and although there has been no Gallic success in the Guineas since 1995 the contest is the target of choice for Head.

The trainer, who won the Rowley Mile showpiece 27 years ago on Zino in his days as a rider, yesterday reported his charge in fighting fettle for his eagerly-anticipated three-year-old debut. "He's had a good winter and has done very well," he said. "His coat is great and it's so far, so good. We'll see what happens on Friday, but at the moment I couldn't be happier with him."

Naaqoos, owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, had two of the best in Ireland, Intense Focus and Mastercraftsman, back in third and fourth places last October. The typically hardy Jim Bolger inmate Intense Focus, who franked the form by taking the Dewhurst Stakes 13 days later, lost little in defeat under a penalty at Leopardstown last month; Mastercraftsman, backed to narrow favouritism in the Guineas lists after positive vibes from Ballydoyle, had a racecourse workout last week but will not race before the big day.

Of Naaqoos's other perceived potential rivals, neither Evasive, who missed some work with the Sir Michael Stoute string last week because of a foot infection, nor Crowded House will take in prep races either. Indeed Crowded House, who has the Derby as his prime target, may swerve the mile Classic altogether. "We'll see what the trials throw up," said his trainer Brian Meehan, "and then we'll decide."

One who is something of a forgotten horse, at least according to Karl Burke, is Lord Shanakill, due to appear in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday week. "He worked very nicely this morning," said the Middleham handler yesterday, "and physically has definitely improved. And as every line of his juvenile form has worked out and most of it crosses with horses at the top of the Guineas betting, he seems at a huge price at 33-1."

At Pontefract yesterday Barry Hills had good fortune along for the ride when he duly notched the 3,000th success of his celebrated career with odds-on shot Chapter And Verse. The three-year-old took the opening ten-furlong maiden by a neck under his trainer's son Michael, but only after runner-up Mt Kintyre threw the race away by veering violently right in the closing stages.

Hills, 72, had his first success 40 years ago this month and those in the interim have included 46 at the top level worldwide, including 10 Classic heroes and heroines. "It's been a long journey but I've enjoyed it all," he said, "and they all count; even the little ones make a difference. A winner's a winner and sometimes you need a bit of luck."

At least one of Chapter And Verse's owners would cherish that particular quality right now. The grey colt carries the colours of one of Hills' oldest patrons, Jack Hanson, and a newer recruit to the Lambourn yard's roster of patrons, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Day In a Page

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference