Testing time for the trials

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The Independent Online
One In A Million gave Henry Cecil his first 1,000 Guineas success on the day that the Conservative party began their 18 years in government. Both were short-priced favourites on 3 May 1979, but as Cecil pursues his fifth victory in the race this week the landscape has changed.

While both outfits go into this week's fixtures on the back of success in their respective events last time out -Cecil through Bosra Sham 12 months ago -and while the trainer again has a favourite's chance with Sleepytime, one reassuring element is missing. For among many redundancies during the past 18 years the Classic trial got the sack.

One In A Million started at even-money because of an emphatic win in the Nell Gwyn Stakes a fortnight earlier, but there is no such tangible information for punters to base their selection on this year. Of the two main British trials for the 1,000, the Nell Gwyn Stakes was contested by second-raters and the Fred Darling Stakes proved inconclusive after Sleepytime got caught napping and missed any chance of getting a clear run.

In any case, the filly that heads most betting lists, Moonlight Paradise, had her trial for the Guineas against hand-picked stablemates a world away in Dubai and the French filly, Pas De Reponse, had almost as easy a time against just two opponents in her racecourse excursion. On Saturday, Cecil tested two more of his fillies -he has three in the first five in 1,000 betting - Yashmak and Reams Of Verse, in a racecourse gallop. The former apparently emerged on top.

So that is just about all the information we have to go on; the only clues to tell us how these immature beasts have progressed since they last raced in the autumn; the only snippets of news as to how they have coped with winter and with adolescence. The 1,000 Guineas has become the 1,000 guesses.

The Classic trials, once deemed an essential part of the build-up to the major races, have now been largely discarded as a nuisance - mock exams that cause a trainer to put pressure on his pupils before they are ready.

It is a sign that the Classics themselves have lost status. No longer are they the pinnacles for which proper preparation must be made, but a starting point on the road to the big prizes of summer and autumn on the international circuit that has latterly overtaken the old order.

Among the colts this year the lack of racecourse proof is even more demonstrable, with the market leaders Entrepreneur and Shamikh and the strongly fancied Putra, Zamindar and Musical Pursuit all being excused racecourse duties.

And as if to emphasise that it is not such a conservative world any more, the 1,000 Guineas does not even occupy its traditional Thursday position. This year's race, like the preceding two, will be run on Sunday.

1,000 Guineas (Newmarket, Sunday) Coral: 100-30 Sleepytime, 4-1 Moonlight Paradise, 9-2 Pas De Reponse, 8-1 (from 7-1) Reams Of Verse, 9-1 Dance Parade, 10-1 (from 12-1) Yashmak, 12-1 others; William Hill: 4-1 Moonlight Paradise, Pas De Reponse, 9-2 Sleepytime, 7-1 Yashmak, 8-1 Reams Of Verse, 11-1 others; Ladbrokes: 4-1 Moonlight Paradise, 9-2 Pas De Reponse, Sleepytime, 5-1 Yashmak, 7-1 Reams Of Verse, 10-1 others;