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Horse Racing: Guineas still a live target as Excellent Art is made to fight.

Byline: Jon Lees reports

EXCELLENT ART is an outsider's price for the 2007 Stan James 2,000 Guineas but a crack at the Classic remains a possibility for the colt, who snatched the narrowest of wins to claim his first Group prize in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury yesterday.

Recent runs behind Dutch Art and Holy Roman Emperor made Excellent Art the outstanding form choice for the Group 2 contest, but he needed the judge's intervention to land the spoils.

Biding his time on the Prix Morny third, Kerrin McEvoy seemed poised for a decisive success whenever he opted to press the button, but the Jimmy Fortune-ridden Doctor Brown pushed him all the way, and the pair were separated by only a short head at the line.

Dutch Art, who was sold by Excellent Art's owner Matthew Green, and Holy Roman Emperor head the market for next year's Classic, for which Excellent Art is a 25-1 chance with VCbet. Although Neville Callaghan does not rank his colt quite in the top division, there were excuses for his two recent defeats.

The trainer said: "The ground at Deauville last time was bottomless, which wasn't ideal and he stumbled 50 yards out, which cost him second place. I also think he saw too much daylight in the race. Before that, at the Curragh, he got upset in the stalls and might not have been quite right.

"He's not far off the best and today's race was a bit messy. I'm sure if he could ride the race again Kerrin would have gone on a bit earlier. Seven furlongs will suit him better, and if he runs again this season it will be in the Dewhurst Stakes, not the Middle Park. There's a lot of staying blood on the dam's side, which should help him stay."

Doctor Brown was ridden with much more patience than when landing the St Leger Yearling Sales Stakes at York. He and Excellent Art had the rest of the field well strung out as they pulled three and a half lengths clear of Dubai Builder.

Trainer Brian Meehan said: "At York we were going hell for leather for the money! It was good for his development to see him get in behind some others. He's still on the weak side and it wouldn't bother me if he didn't run again this year."

Result

Dubau Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes

1 Excellent Art 15-8

2 Doctor Brown 6-4f

3 Dubai Builder 12-1

Owner Matthew Green

Trainer Neville Callaghan

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy

Groom Jodie Pledge

Breeder Cheveley Park Stud

Distances shd, 31/21
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 17, 2006
Words:437
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