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Racing: Late Quiff decision for Classic.

Byline: Keith Hamer and Martin Kelly

Quiff's connections will make a 'last-minute decision' on her participation in today's betfair.com St Leger.

The going was soft when Quiff won the Yorkshire Oaks by 11 lengths last month and she will not be risked if the ground for the Doncaster Classic is considered too firm for her.

Although a little rain fell at Doncaster during racing yesterday afternoon it had no effect on the the ground, which is described as good to firm, firm in places in the straight.

Coral Pritchard-Gordon, partner of trainer Sir Michael Stoute, said yesterday: 'So far so good. Hopefully we'll get some rain tonight. It will be last-minute decision. She's a lovely filly and it's fingers crossed.'

The St Leger is the one Classic to have eluded Stoute while Quiff aims to become the first filly to win the world's oldest Classic for 12 years, and the seventh since the war.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: 'There has been rain forecast and according to my radar it is on the way.

'The main intention is to run but we don't want to do that on baking hard ground, so if it rains a reasonable amount so there is no jar in it, that will be fine.

'It was a bit too hard for her at Royal Ascot.

'It was firm that day, and she probably wouldn't want it as hard as that, but all things being equal we plan to run.

'She has been in good order since York - it was slightly specialist conditions there. She couldn't have done it any better, though, and I would hope that means she deserves to take her place in the Leger.'

Quiff's jockey Kieren Fallon has also yet to win the Leger but the champion jockey is full of hope.

'I am pretty confident, especially with the rain coming, and she is a good filly,' he said.

He nominated favourite Rule Of Law as a big danger.

'Rule Of Law is a top horse and is probably one of the best horses in training,' he added.

'He has had some hard races during the year and is still hanging on in there, so it is going to be tough, especially with a colt against a filly.'

Stoute's other runner Maraahel, winner of the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, probably needs fast ground to be at his best.

Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: 'There's a doubt about the stamina and the trip and we don't know if he's good enough yet, so there are lots of imponderables. The track is the obvious place to find out.

'He deserves to take his chance and we'll see on the day.'

Godolphin have won the St Leger three times - with Classic Cliche (1995), Nedawi (1998) and Mutafaweq (1999) - and hopes are high that Rule Of Law, second in the Derby and winner of the Great Voltigeur, can make it four.

Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said: 'Rule Of Law worked last time over seven furlongs with Kerrin McEvoy and he worked very well.

'He is ready to run. A mile and six furlongs is a new trip for him and he needs to relax in the race. If he does so, I think we have a big chance. We just need luck.' Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford added: 'The whole stable is in cracking form and Rule Of Law is in tremendous condition. He has the right profile and credentials for the St Leger.

'All is well and I hope he can do it.'

McEvoy, who steered the colt into second spot in the Derby, has the mount and is looking forward to the Leger.

McEvoy said: 'He was great in his work earlier this week and gave me a nice feel. He is in great order, is nice and relaxed and looks to have a good chance. 'It is going to be a tough race, though. We have got Maraahel, Quiff and Let The Lion Roar who are all good staying types and it is going to be a really interesting race.

'I'm not getting overconfident because anything can happen in racing - that's for sure. 'It is very exciting and I have had to pinch myself to think that I might win a Classic but I have a good chance and hopefully everything can go right on Saturday.'

Let The Lion Roar, beaten by Rule Of Law in all their four meetings this season, bids to emulate his half-brother Millenary, who took the Leger in 2000.

'The horse is in good form and we hope the forecast rain arrives,' said Marcus Hosgood, racing secretary to trainer John Dunlop.

More rain is on the way, according to officials at Town Moor.

Clerk of the course John Sanderson said: 'If the St Leger had been run today the horses would be running on good to firm going, because it is up towards the stands-side rail where the ground has quickened up to firm.

'The straight course will be faster and, ideally, we could do with a quarter of an inch of rain before racing tomorrow.

'The rain is forecast to reach us eventually, so we certainly have no plans to water.'

CAPTION(S):

Kieren Fallon takes Quiff to a comfortable win in the Yorkshire Oaks at York last month
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 11, 2004
Words:892
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