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Major blow as Damson is ruled out of Guineas; Market leader diverted to Irish equivalent after scoping badly.


DAMSON, long-time favourite for Sunday's 1,000 Guineas, was yesterday ruled out of the race after scoping badly following what was to have been her final gallop for the Newmarket Classic.

Her shock withdrawal from the race left Karen's Caper and Shanghai Lily vying for supremacy at the head of the market for the race.

Damson had been brought to Newmarket nine days earlier to complete her preparation, due to ground conditions in Ireland.

All appeared to be going to plan as she cantered down behind the Millennium Grandstand and made her way across to the start of the summer gallop under Kieren Fallon, in company with an unraced stablemate ridden by Jamie Spencer and a filly trained by Neville Callaghan, with whom Damson has been lodging.

After being given a good lead, Damson moved through smoothly to take command in the exercise over five furlongs, but the bad news was to filter through to trainer David Wachman at the breakfast table.

Wachman, taking the news philosophically, said: ``She scoped dirty afterwards and, unfortunately, will miss the race. We will now train her for the Irish Guineas. ``Kieren and Jamie were very pleased with her in her work, but we found out the news straight after it.

``It's a disappointment but it's not the end of the world. She's pretty fit and she could, hopefully, be over it in seven to ten days, and we can get her to The Curragh for the Irish Guineas on May 22.''

There were differing reactions from bookmakers to the news. Coral made Nell Gwyn winner Karen's Caper their 9-2 favourite, but William Hill promoted Shanghai Lily to 4-1 market leader. Ladbrokes and Totesport could not split the pair at 4-1.

With Damson sidelined, Fallon will now take the ride on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Virginia Waters.

There was another switch around in jockeys with Robert Winston taking the mount on the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Echelon, a stablemate of Shanghai Lily.

The Fred Darling Stakes third had pleased Mick Kinane when working on the Limekilns on Saturday and Kinane was due to retain his partnership with the filly in the Classic. But his commitments to John Oxx mean he will be unable to come over for Sunday's race.

Chris Richardson, managing director of owner Cheveley Park Stud, said: ``Mick Kinane has informed us that he will not be able to come over on Sunday, so we have booked Robert Winston instead. Johnny Murtagh will ride Shanghai Lily.''

Winston had been set to ride Magical Romance, who he partnered to victory for Brian Meehan in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket last season.

Meehan has yet to finalise jockey plans for Magical Romance, and is hoping to see a change in the ground at Newmarket, which is currently good to firm, firm in places.

He said: ``I haven't yet sorted out a jockey, and as long as Newmarket gets rain she will run. She doesn't have to have it soft, but she does want good ground.''

n KIEREN FALLON is set to have his first ride for Sir Michael Stoute since he split with the trainer early this year to join Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle.

Fallon is due to partner Gamut in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on Sunday.

The six-year-old, who the former champion rode to victory in last year's Grand P rix de Saint-Cloud, is owned by Derrick Smith, who retains Fallon as his rider along with John Magnier and Michael Tabor.


David Wachman (right) and Neville Callaghan (centre) at Damson's gallop CHRIS BOURCHIER
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 28, 2005
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