Unbeaten Etlaala heads market for Dewhurst

ETLAALA has been installed a short-priced favourite to maintain his unbeaten record in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

Barry Hills' charge looked of the highest calibre when sweeping to victory in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month, a run which propelled him to the head of the betting for the 2000 Guineas.

"Hopefully it's all systems go for Saturday. I know Barry has been very pleased with him," said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.

The Selkirk colt beat the John Gosden-trained Iceman over Saturday's seven-furlong trip at Doncaster and victory in this weekend's Group One contest would see him shorten further in the Guineas market.

Coral make Etlaala the 2-1 favourite for the Dewhurst, but he faces a strong challenge at Headquarters with Mark Johnston's unbeaten Vintage Stakes winner Shamardal also engaged and rated a 7-2 chance with the same firm.

Another leading contender is Aidan O'Brien's French Group One winner Oratorio, with the Ballydoyle handler also having Royal Lodge runner-up Scandinavia engaged following the five-day declaration stage.

Sir Michael Stoute saddles the dark horse of the race, Home Affairs, who has been the subject of favourable gallops reports during recent days. The Khalid Abdullah-owned son of Dansili scored by three lengths at Yarmouth last month having made his debut when fifth in a hot-looking Newmarket maiden in July.

Terry Mills has paid £15,000 to supplement his Tremar, a recent Group Three winner in France, while Royal Lodge winner Perfectperformance is one of two Godolphin entries, the other being the unbeaten Librettist.

Iceman will try to bag a Group One having finished third in the Middle Park Stakes last time out. He landed the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier this season.

Democratic Deficit is Jim Bolger's entry, while Peter Chapple-Hyam's Montgomery's Arch and the Mick Channon-trained Henrik, who ran Godolphin's Dubawi to half a length in a Group Three at Newmarket in July, complete the field.

The Dewhurst often has a major effect on the 2000 Guineas market and Rock Of Gibralter was the last horse to complete the double in 2001/2002.

"This is a vintage renewal of the Dewhurst and whatever wins it will go into winter as the short-priced favourite for the 2000 Guineas", commented Coral spokesman Simon Clare.

Darley Dewhurst Stakes, Coral bet: 2-1 Etlaala, 7-2 Shamardal, 9-2 Oratorio, 5-1 Home Affairs, 6-1 Librettist, 8-1 Perfectperformance, Iceman, 20-1 Scandinavia, 25-1 Bar

lHorse Racing Ireland has announced the format for this year's Irish Horse Racing Awards which will be voted on by members of the Irish racing media and be presented on November 29.

There are two new awards this year, Racehorse of the Year, which will honour an extraordinary performance by a racehorse, and a new Industry award that will recognise an individual's outstanding contribution to the sport. The awards, designed to recognise and celebrate excellence in horse racing, will cover six categories which include outstanding achievement, Flat, National Hunt and point-to-point.

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