Sham ready for Duster dust-up

Sue Montgomery says that the fillies are attracting admirers as the Classic trials begin

SOME dreams of trainers and owners will sustain themselves this week. But many more will be dashed as the brutal truth that emerges when horse races against horse becomes clear in the Guineas trials at Newmarket and Newbury.

But at Warren Place, they are still confident. Yesterday morning on Newmarket Heath the 1,000 Guineas favourite, Bosra Sham - due to make her public reappearance in the Fred Darling Stakes at the Berkshire track on Friday - came through her latest homework with flying colours. The white-faced chestnut quickened away from her lead horse on the Limekilns trial ground as soon as Tony McGlone gave her the word and finished well clear with her ears pricked. "Not bad, is she?" said her trainer, Henry Cecil.

One of the features of life at racing's headquarters during the close season has been the degree of partisan support accorded to Bosra Sham and her great rival, Blue Duster, who will not run before the Guineas but will have a racecourse gallop after the sport at Newmarket on Thursday. The pair, the two top-rated British fillies last year, did not meet as juveniles, and their showdown will be three weeks today.

But on the training grounds, interest in the town's leading ladies has been intense. The two are very different: Bosra Sham is an imposing, rangy, relaxed individual guaranteed to stay every yard of the Rowley Mile; Blue Duster is small and neat, untried over the distance but possessing blinding speed at the finish.

Further spice is added to the equation by the people involved with the fillies. Cecil, who trains Bosra Sham for the Syrian businessman Wafic Said, has already won 15 Classics; Blue Duster, trained by one of the sport's emerging talents, David Loder, runs for Sheikh Mohammed, who not only fell out publicly with Cecil last year but also deprived him of two more English Classic triumphs by taking his former charges Moonshell and Classic Cliche away to Dubai to be trained. The Guineas may not be a grudge match, but the savour of the situation is not lost.

This week's racing - three days at Newmarket's Craven meeting, two at Newbury - will reveal whether there will be any other fillies fit to spoil the party. Those bidding to shine in the Nell Gwyn Stakes on Tuesday will include Dance Sequence, Mezzogiorno, Maid For The Hills, Honest Guest and the Oaks favourite, Bint Salsabil; but this year the focus will be less on that recognised trial than on Blue Duster's solo spin.

The colts take their turn in the Free Handicap on Wednesday and the Craven Stakes on Thursday. Although Mystiko went on to win the Guineas after taking the former five years ago (his trainer, Clive Brittain, saddles World Premier this time), the Craven Stakes is generally the better yardstick, having thrown up the Classic winners Tirol, Doyoun, Don't Forget Me and Dancing Brave in the past 10 years. Pommard, the rising star, will be pitched in at the deep end against two of last year's Group One winners, Beauchamp King and Polaris Flight, but there will have to have been an electrifying performance to disturb Alhaarth's position at the head of the 2,000 Guineas market. The Dick Hern-trained odds-on favourite is scheduled to reappear in the Greenham Stakes on Saturday, where Danehill Dancer and Tagula, who chased him home in the Dewhurst, will reoppose.

The Derby is only eight weeks away, and one of the first serious pointers may come in Tuesday's Museum Maiden Stakes, won three years ago by the Epsom great Commander In Chief. The entries for the 10-furlong contest include Sacho, a once-raced son of Sadler's Wells and the triple Classic winner Oh So Sharp. Storm Trooper, one of Bosra Sham's regular partners on the gallops this spring, opens his season in the nine-furlong Feilden Stakes on Thursday.

Best bets: 10 to follow on the Flat in 1996

Alhaarth (3-y-o; Trainer: Dick Hern)

Top-class last year and the one they have to beat in the 2,000 Guineas. Derby trip may be problematic.

Bosra Sham (3-y-o; Henry Cecil)

Matured into a beauty and has talent to match looks. Guaranteed stamina over a mile can clinch 1,000 Guineas.

Dark Waters (3-y-o; Michael Stoute)

Should come into his own over middle distances.

Charnwood Forest (4-y-o; Saeed Bin Suroor)

Has enormous potential and could be a top miler.

Lucky Di (4-y-o; Luca Cumani).

Missed most of last year through injury, but looked a class act over 10 furlongs at Kempton six days ago.

Pivotal (3-y-o; Sir Mark Prescott)

Winner of two out of three last year; likely to stay further than sprint distances; sure to be shrewdly placed.

Riyadian (4-y-o; Paul Cole)

One for the King George/Arc short-list.

Ruznama (3-y-o; Barry Hills).

May be up to changing trainer's wretched luck in Oaks.

Sacho (3-y-o; John Gosden)

Caught eye behind Silver Dome on his only run at two. Could prove Sheikh Mohammed's best Derby hope.

Spectrum (4-y-o; Peter Chapple-Hyam).

From six runs has already notched two Group One victories and should cope with a mile and a half.

newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn