Revoque is top of juvenile class: Racing

Revoque won his first confrontation of 1997 with Bahhare yesterday. Peter Chapple-Hyam's colt was placed at the summit of the International Classifications and rated 2lb superior to the unbeaten Bahhare.

While Chapple-Hyam celebrated this victory in the two-year-old section while on holiday, the John Dunlop camp of the runner-up appeared to take defeat very well. "We wouldn't have any arguments with the assessment because on a line through In Command it does appear he is slightly inferior," Marcus Hosgood, the trainer's secretary, said. Consolation is available in another set of figures, the Tote's ante-post list, which has Bahhare at 3-1 and Revoque three points longer for the 2,000 Guineas.

Bahhare, who is owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, was afforded some winter sun in Dubai but is now back boarding at Arundel. "At the moment we're just barely cantering them, but Bahhare is in good form," Hosgood added.

In Command himself won the Dewhurst Stakes to earn a rating of 117, the lowest mark for a winner of that race since Dr Devious in 1991. Barry Hills, In Command's trainer, can cheer himself with the fact that the good doctor went on to win the Derby.

British juveniles became as welcome in France as the nation's meat products last year when 11 of the 19 two-year-old pattern races were surrendered to the visitors from across La Manche. Pas De Reponse, who captured the Cheveley Park Stakes, was the only horse to make a successful journey in the other direction.

The classifications suggest two-year-old racing is becoming increasingly uncompetitive (there are fewer horses reaching the qualification level) and this malaise is heightened by the small numbers representing France. Racing there is suffering from the top horses being concentrated among an elite group of owners and trainers.

France does, however, provide the top-rated three-year-old in Helissio, who, with the exception of Suave Dancer, is considered to be the best Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner of the last 10 years. The committee is still undecided about his true merit following Olivier Peslier's Olga Korbut performance at Longchamp. "It is difficult to judge, had his jockey not indulged in some remarkable pre-race finish celebrations, by just how far he may have won," Geoffrey Gibbs, the classifications chairman, said.

Shaamit, on 124, is the lowest rated Derby winner since Quest For Fame in 1990. Some unkind soul has begun referring to the Classic as a high- class maiden race following the victories for seasonal debutants in the last two years and it does appear that the greatest event of them all is becoming seen as much as a starting point as a peak of a thoroughbred's career.

The older-horse category and the title of the best horse in the world goes to the now-retired Cigar (the other celebrated animal of the Breeders' Cup series, Rick's Natural Star, is a cruel omission).

With the improved accessibility of world events and the decline in stallion fees the number of older horses kept in training is increasing, but nevertheless the removal of Cigar will leave a void.

The big horse has joined the American legends such as Forego and Kelso as an animal who topped his category in consecutive years. "Accepting the ability, courage and durability he has consistently demonstrated it is not unreasonable, in that he is markedly superior in character and quality, to define him as a great," Gibbs said.

2,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 3 May) Tote: 3-1 Bahhare, 6-1 Revoque, 10-1 Indiscreet, 16-1 Medaaly, Putra, 20-1 Entrepreneur, In Command, Majorien, Mantovani, Musical Pursuit, Poteen, Zamindar, 25-1 others.

1,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 4 May) Tote: 3-1 Sleepytime, 6-1 Moonlight Paradise, 7-1 Reams Of Verse, 10-1 Dazzle, Pas De Reponse, 12-1 Fleet River, Ryafan, 14-1 Yashmak, 16-1 Khassah, Sarayir, 20-1 others.

DERBY (Epsom, 7 June) Tote: 14-1 Entrepreneur, Happy Valentine, 20-1 Bahhare, Medaaly, Yorkshire, 25-1 High Roller, Indiscreet, Memorise, Shaya, 33-1 others.