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Distant Music out of the top drawer; CHAMPAGNE STAKES.

A COLT to challenge the Classic claims of Irish duo Fasliyev and Bernstein emerged at Doncaster yesterday when Distant Music produced a display of devastating acceleration to win the Frigidaire Champagne Stakes, writes Jon Lees.

The son of Distant View is now pressing the Aidan O'Brien-trained pair for 2,000 Guineas favouritism after dismissing their previously unbeaten Group 2-winning stablemate Rossini by an easy two and a half lengths. Ekraar finished a well-beaten fourth.

Michael Hills, who rode the winner, rated Distant Music, trained by his father Barry, as "very high class and well on course to tackle anything put in front of him".

Bookmakers backed that view, with Distant Music being promoted by William Hill to 7-1 (from 20-1) joint-favourite for the 2,000 Guineas alongside Bernstein and Fasliyev.

Distant Music is a best-priced 10-1 with Ladbrokes, the Tote and Victor Chandler, while Coral offer

8-1 behind the O'Brien pair, who are both 7-1 chances.

Khalid Abdullah's colt has for some time been rated the best youngster in Hills' powerful stable, but the only public evidence was a smooth debut victory over this course and distance in July.

But, despite an overnight injury scare when he was found slightly lame, he easily lived up to expectations, bursting from last to first over a furlong out and stretching clear to repeat last year's victory for the owner, trainer and jockey with Auction House.

Barry Hills said: "I was very impressed. If anything, he got there a bit too soon, but he has a very good turn of foot. A few horses have had dirty noses for the past fortnight and one has been worried about it.

"Ernie Johnson worked the horse last Saturday and he was very pleased with him. Michael sat on him on Wednesday but yesterday he had a seedy toe - a corn - on his near-fore and was slightly lame. It was poulticed and I told my vet the horse would only travel if he thought he was 100 per cent.

"He didn't travel up here until this morning and it was only at half past six that we took the decision to run him.

"The progressional route would be to go for the Dewhurst Stakes. I will talk to Teddy Beckett [Abdullah's racing manager] and Prince Khalid first - if he doesn't go there, maybe he won't run again this year.

"For a horse who had only had one run, he has won a long way. There is every chance he will get a mile and a quarter in top company, and the Guineas is something to dream about."

Michael Hills knew what Distant Music was capable of at home but wanted to see a demonstration on the track. Hills said: "At home he can kill a gallop in one stride. He is so quick.

"I switched him off at the back because I didn't want him to get into a battle early on. I wanted to know what was on the other end and I got a nice surprise.

"The response was instant and he kept going. He's the best two-year-old I've ridden for my father."

Perhaps in the knowledge that he is involved in Fasliyev and Bernstein, Michael Tabor was relatively unperturbed by the defeat of Prix Robert Papin winner Rossini.

Tabor said: "I'm pretty pleased with that. I would have been more delighted if he had won, but we were giving 4lb to the winner."

The disappointment was Ekraar, who had lowered the juvenile track record at Goodwood in the Lanson Champagne Vintage Stakes. And the form had been franked yesterday by the victory of runner-up Sarafan at Goodwood.

Marcus Tregoning, Ekraar's trainer, could offer no explanation after the colt had finished almost eight lengths behind the winner.

He said: "It was rather disappointing. He had looked very useful at Goodwood but this was a step up. He is quite big and maybe he needs time to furnish."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Lees, Jon
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 11, 1999
Previous Article:Timahs the brave in the picture for Cambridgeshire.
Next Article:Bonus set to be scooped; Fifteen try their luck at becoming first to go all the way with Tote's new bet.

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