Reunion makes it a family occasion
What with the dogs at Perry Barr and the creaking steeplechasers at Exeter, punters in Britain's betting shops had little chance to study the runners as they paraded before the Nell Gwyn Stakes here yesterday, and for this the people who run Britain's betting shops are no doubt grateful. Ten fillies trotted nervously around the paddock, but health and happiness radiated from every square inch of Reunion's gleaming coat, and the only surprise when she returned to the winners' enclosure 15 minutes later was that she had been allowed to start at 8-1.
Yet Reunion could be twice that price if she follows the accepted path for a Nell Gwyn winner and returns to the Rowley Mile for the 1,000 Guineas on 4 May. The Tote offer 20-1 about her chance in the first fillies' Classic, which reflects the relative unfamiliarity of John Hills, her trainer, when compared to, say, his father Barry, who saddled yesterday's runner- up, Elegant Warning. Indeed, the enclosure was knee-deep with Hills, since John's brothers, Richard and Michael, were aboard the first two home.
John Hills may lag behind his father in terms of Classic winners, but another statistic offers an alternative view. He has saddled just three runners in British Classics, but two of them, Broadway Flyer (1994 St Leger) and Wind In Her Hair (1994 Oaks) finished second, and with Reunion clearly as forward as any filly in Britain (those in Dubai, of course, are another matter), another placing at least is a distinct possibility.
"We always knew she had ability, she's been going well at home and I fancied her today," Hills said. "When you win a race like this and you think you've got a nice one you've got to go and take your chance in the Guineas. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Fred Darling on Friday [when Sleepytime, ante-post favourite for the 1,000, makes her seasonal debut], but there will be quite a few fillies having their first run in the Guineas. Ours has had only three runs so hopefully she'll find a bit more."
Hills snr has yet to decide whether Elegant Warning, who was running on again at the end of yesterday's seven furlongs, will reoppose the winner at Newmarket. Similar uncertainty surrounds Za-Im, the trainer's second runner-up of the day, who finished just a neck behind Poteen in the conditions event but whose participation in the 2,000 Guineas, for which he is 25- 1 from 40-1 with William Hill, depends on whether Sheikh Hamdan can come up with anything better before 3 May.
Poteen, however, will definitely line up for the Guineas, and Luca Cumani was pleased with yesterday's performance, even if those who took odds of 1-3 were fretting until well inside the final furlong. "I'm very happy because he is still a good two weeks away from fitness," Cumani said. "That's why I ran him today. I wanted to get two more gallops into him before the Guineas and if we had gone to the Greenham [at Newbury on Saturday] I would only have had time for one."
Poteen's Classic odds were unchanged with all the major layers (14-1 with William Hill is the best around), and the ante-post market on the race may be unusually static between now and the big day. With the exception of Revoque, who runs in the Greenham, not one of the seven colts at the top of the Tote's betting (and that goes up to the 16-1 chances) is expected to run before the 2,000. So anyone stepping in to take a price before they are sure that their selection is, firstly, sound of limb, and secondly, down at the start, is playing a dangerous game.
For bookmakers this is desperate news, and they resorted with predictably desperate measures. Shawaf, from John Dunlop's yard, won the seven-furlong maiden readily enough, but the subsequent quotes of 25-1 for the 2,000 must be treated with the contempt they deserve.
Latest in Sport
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
McDowell did brilliantly to land the World Match Play title in Bulgaria last week, but it’s a format...
by Gareth Purnell
23 May 2013 09:13 AM
David Moyes delighted after Rio Ferdinand agrees to stay at Manchester United with new one-year contract
Sergio Garcia / Tiger Woods 'fried chicken' racism row takes fresh twist after 'coloured athletes' comment
After racist remark, Sergio Garcia fights for reputation as Tiger Woods slams 'hurtful' fried chicken joke
New Manchester City manager must deliver five trophies in five years
Manchester United slash interest bill by £10m a year
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 'He was always smiling': Lee Rigby named as Woolwich victim
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 5 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.