Reponse is positive as Dazzle dallies in rear

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The Independent Online
Kieren Fallon smiled generously beneath his yellow-rimmed goggles before the Cheveley Park Stakes here yesterday, as befitted a jockey who knew that whatever happened he would still be down to ride the 1,000 Guineas favourite at the end of play. He looked a little less pleased with himself after the Group One race, however.

The Irishman's mount, Dazzle, lost her position as favourite for the Classic after being set the sort of assignment that would have seen Hercules' towel being thrown into the ring. There are few adages that stand the passage of time in racing but one of the more pertinent is that you cannot give ground away in slowly run races, especially in high-quality ones.

This rule seemed to escape Fallon though as he trotted along at the rear of the field, seemingly in the belief that the filly beneath him had the sort of acceleration to break the earth's gravitational pull. When the pounce to the line arrived Dazzle indeed made up some ground on the horizon specks, but it was never going to be sufficient. She finished fourth, beaten two and a half lengths.

Fallon did offer some words in mitigation: "She did not really enjoy the dip and perhaps I should have asked her sooner to get her running into it," he said. "But I still don't think she would have won."

Dazzle's trainer, Michael Stoute, is not a man to castigate his employees in public, but he had to compose himself before delivering his thoughts on the race. "Maybe she wasn't at her best today because she didn't accelerate," he said, "but I just felt she was left stranded at the back of the field. Knowing that they were going to kick down that hill and go, I would have wanted her to be a little closer than that." Then the trainer was off, before real thoughts could escape through his mouth.

Dazzle's defeat was doubly hurtful for punters as she was a 4-9 shot here and also 7-2 favourite for the 1,000 Guineas (she is now out to 12- 1). For some reason, though, the bookmakers, who have been more than willing to discuss profit margins this week, did not comment on the day's trading.

These events left the ante-post market in a dreadful jumble and the market leader by default is now Henry Cecil's Sleepytime. She, too, was the victim of pilot error at Ascot on Sunday when Pat Eddery brought her run to a halt as effectively as if he had galloped the filly up a ramp and into a furniture wagon. Fallon will hope his, and Sleepytime's, traffic problems will be over next season when he takes up his post as Cecil's retained rider.

It was ironic in this atmosphere of troubled jockeyship that the Cheveley Park should go to the Frenchman who gets the same sort of reception that greeted William the Conqueror when he crosses the Channel. Freddie Head's scrapbook of memorable British rides does not have too many entries but he was faultless here as he charted the path of his sister Criquette's Pas De Reponse.

The trainer's pedigree in this race is incomparable as she has now won it three times from as many efforts following the victories of Ma Biche (1982) and Ravinella (1987), both of whom went on to 1,000 Guineas success.

Mme Head went into the race professing that Pas De Reponse had minimal prospects of staying the mile of the Classic, but just over 70 seconds and a persuasive performance later the seed of expectation was flourishing in her mind. "Today, at the end, she was going away and you can win the Guineas with a horse that doesn't stay," she said. "Ma Biche didn't stay. And for me this filly is like Ravinella was in those early days and she has won the same races. I love to come here."

1997 1,000 GUINEAS: Coral: 4-1 Sleepytime, 6-1 Reams Of Verse, 10-1 Fleet River, 12-1 Dazzle, 14-1 Pas De Reponse, Red Camellia & Sarayir; Ladbrokes: 7-2 Sleepytime, 5-1 Reams Of Verse, 8-1 Dazzle, 10-1 Moonlight Paradise & Pas De Reponse, 12-1 Khassah; William Hill: 11-4 Sleepytime, 6-1 Reams Of Verse, 7-1 Pas De Reponse, 8-1 Dazzle, 12-1 Moonlight Paradise, 14- 1 Fleet River, Khassah & Sarayir.

Obituary of Aubrey Brabazon,

page 16

Yesterday's results, page 25