Dancer steps out to grab the spotlight

OOZING class, Flirting Dancer yesterday stamped himself as one of next season's Derby contenders when he ran out a cosy winner of the $1.25-million Kukri Trophy.

The Patrick Biancone-trained private-purchase griffin had 13/4 lengths to spare over impressive last-start winner Wonderful Moment, who in turn held Go Go for second.

Flirting Dancer, by Irish Derby and Royal Ascot winner Shareef Dancer, out of a full sister to the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Wassl, has now won two of his three starts.

It would have been three out of three but for his debut effort turning into a sit-and-sprint affair that caught him out.

Biancone said: ''He's going to be a very nice horse over a mile, and he may stay farther as he is so relaxed.

''The way he gallops is so reminiscent of his sire and he is so relaxed that he will give himself every chance of staying the Derby trip next season.

''For the time being that could be enough for the season. I will now probably give him a good long rest.

''This was the race I was aiming at and the plan has worked out.'' Many racegoers were inclined to blame Basil Marcus for the defeat of Wonderful Moment but this would be to misinterpret the race.

Marcus was trapped wide on Wonderful Moment when his inexperienced mount, running round a bend for the first time in his life, was sent on to his wrong leg - his left - all the way round the bottom bend.

This was the result of some astute riding by Greg Childs on Souper on Marcus' inside. Childs was aware he had one of the favourites for this three-year-old sprint championship caught on his outside and, quite rightly, exploited the situation to the full.

Consequently Wonderful Moment swung wide into the straight with Marcus trying his hardest to get him back on the right leg.

In contrast, Flirting Dancer, with Gerald Mosse aboard, enjoyed a silky smooth passage, cantering on the rails as they turned for home.

It was not until they straightened up that Wonderful Moment could use himself properly as he fell back into his correct stride pattern.

He loomed up menacingly with 200 metres to go but there the effort of getting into the race took its toll and he could not close the gap on Flirting Dancer.