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Spotlight on Ballet Master; Stage set for Cecil colt to stake Classic claim.

ALL eyes will be on Ballet Master as he puts his Sagitta 2,000 Guineas credentials on the line in front of the Channel 4 cameras at Sandown today.

A series of inconclusive trials has left punters crying out for a decisive performance from a Classic contender.

So extra attention will be paid to Henry Cecil's colt, as low as 10-1 for the Guineas, as he reappears in today's Hargreave Hale & Co Conditions Stakes, a race won in the past by subsequent Group 1 scorers Kahyasi, Saumarez and Spectrum.

Originally due to reappear at the Newmarket Craven meeting, Ballet Master has been rerouted to Sandown after being cast in his box.

Despite having to have his prep run so close to the Guineas, Ballet Master,

impressive winner of a Yarmouth maiden on his only start to date, is highly rated by his jockey Kieren Fallon.

Fallon, who partnered the colt in a workout at Newmarket on Tuesday morning, said: "We've not seen the best of him yet and he's a horse I like a lot.

"He went on about two furlongs from home at Yarmouth, so I would not be too worried if nothing else goes on. His run should bring him on a lot, but he did a real good piece of work the other morning and he should run very well."

Ballet Master, owned in partnership by Michael Tabor, Sue Magnier and the Niarchos family, is out of a half-sister to the top-class pair Salsabil and Marju, and made a huge impression when romping home by seven lengths on his debut in October.

Cecil, who also has Enrique as a serious Guineas candidate, reported Ballet Master to be recovered from his setback.

"He's fine now," said Cecil yesterday. "He's beautifully bred and I'm delighted we got a race into him last year. He's thrived through the winter.

"He's been working nicely and it looks as if we've got Little Rock to beat here. I feel he might be better on faster ground, but it was soft when he won his maiden."

The eight-day gap between today's heat and the 2,000 Guineas is far from ideal, although as recently as 1996, Ed Dunlop sent out Ta Rib to land the French 1,000 Guineas only nine days after she won her maiden at Newmarket.

"Ballet Master's been left in the Guineas and it's not out of the question," added Cecil. "We'll have to see how he performs at Sandown and then see how he takes the race.''

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Little Rock heads the opposition. The Warning half-brother to Whitewater Affair won a seven-furlong maiden at Leicester last October, but does not hold the Guineas entry.

Brian Meehan sends out Time N Tide, who also landed a Leicester maiden this month.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Goff, Tom
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 23, 1999
Words:464
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