Tag Archive for: Doncaster Cup

Staying campaign on Grand Alliance agenda

Grand Alliance opened up a new range of options when going down gallantly to Sober in the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville on Sunday.

The Charlie Fellowes-trained four-year-old split the two best stayers in France with Prix Maurice de Nieuil winner The Good Man back in third.

Despite being a half-brother to top seven-furlong specialist Dutch Connection, the gelding, who was bred by owners Paul and Susan Roy, now looks to have found his niche.

“He ran very well. In fairness, we stepped him up in trip on the advice of Ryan Moore after he had only ridden him once and as Ryan so often is, he was right,” said Fellowes.

“We always thought he was very ground dependent but going over two miles, he can run round in third gear rather than fifth.

“Sober and The Good Man are the two best stayers in France and he’s split them. The ground drying out probably just suited Sober more than us.

“Looking at his pedigree, you wouldn’t think he would stay a yard further than a mile, but the staying trips seem to suit him and it’s opened up a load more doors.

“There’s obviously the Cadran (September 30) and the Doncaster Cup (September 15) but that is not too far apart, so it will be one or the other on the way to Ascot.

“That’s two and a quarter miles at Donny, but Ryan suggested it and it makes sense as he’s won there before, it’s left-handed and Flat, so it could well be Donny and then Ascot on Champions Day.

“With the Prix Royal-Oak being two-five, that might just be stretching him a bit too far, but hopefully his owners can now have some fun with him.”

Monday Musings: Doncaster Pays its Respects

They stood in the owners’ lunchroom at Doncaster yesterday on Mike Cattermole’s cue and perfectly observed the requested two minutes’ silence, writes Tony Stafford. Then, on the big screen behind the excellent cold and hot buffet, was the unforgettable image of Her Late Majesty’s greatest moment as a racehorse owner – never mind winning the Gold Cup with Estimate – the grainy St Leger victory of her home-bred filly Dunfermline in 1977, her Silver Jubilee.

Alone now of the principals of that moment, the indefatigable Willie Carson is still very much with us. With that distinctive head looking down style, along with the rhythmic punching action, he kept Dunfermline in touch with the super horse that was the previously unbeaten and never again vanquished dual Arc winner, Alleged, and Lester Piggott.

Unbelievably, the filly can be seen closing the gap that Lester began to extend once taking the lead at the four-furlong pole. In the last furlong, the filly joined her rival and inexorably gained the advantage. You can see Lester pointedly easing Alleged in the last few strides – no sign of a rat-tat-tat response once he knew the Vincent O’Brien colt was beaten.

Seven years earlier, the same peerless pair, O’Brien and Piggott, had arrived at Doncaster with a similarly unbeaten American-bred colt in the shape of Nijinsky. In his case he did indeed win the St Leger but his exertions in becoming the first (and last) Triple Crown winner since Bahram in 1935 prefaced defeats in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Champion Stakes.

Alleged, a late developer whose fragile forelegs had persuaded connections to race him in Europe despite his dirt pedigree, did not contest either of the earlier UK Classics. Piggott’s restraint on Town Moor left him fresh enough to win his first Arc three weeks later when Dunfermline did well to finish fourth. He followed up impressively in Europe’s Championship race twelve months later before retiring to stud in Kentucky.

In another uncanny moment, as the Dunfermline race was being shown, and the Royal hearse was making its six-hour roadside-packed way from Balmoral to Edinburgh, trainer Ben Hanbury happened to sit down at the next table to myself. We showed our respective respects without talking and I’m not sure quite how I recognised the former Newmarket trainer, soberly dressed, without the colourful trousers he always wore at Keeneland where Midway Lady was bought.

She won five of her six races and was unbeaten at three in 1986 when she won both the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks. Injury prevented any further active involvement but she bred an Oaks winner in Eswarah, trained by Michael Jarvis, in 2005. You guessed it, Midway Lady was a daughter – the best daughter – of Alleged.

Earlier, on my way to the track, I listened to a Radio 5 Live broadcast where I’m sure I heard that Dunfermline, situated between Perth and Edinburgh, was to be one of the towns where the car could be seen.

I bumped into fellow Arsenal fan and Derby-winning jockey Willie Ryan (Benny The Dip, 1997) in the seats outside the Press Room as they milled around before the start of the big race. He had driven Frankie Dettori to the races, laughing as he related the former champion had cried off riding Emily Dickinson for the Coolmore team to partner another filly, Ralph Beckett’s Haskoy, for whom a £50,000 supplementary entry fee was paid.

“I’ve backed Emily”, said Willie. “Frankie keeps switching off winners”, he laughed. Ryan agreed that to consider the St Leger in any ground as a mile and three-quarters race was mistaken. “It’s a long 14 furlongs anyway, but here with that five-furlong run-in it’s really a two-mile grind”, he said.

Ryan works for Charlie Appleby in his day job – “From the floor, not on top anymore”, but went on to say that the trip on that track would be the worry for New London, the favourite for the race. His stamina appeared to run out in much the way of Alleged all those 45 years ago as he finished third behind the Roger Varian-trained Eldar Eldarov.

Frankie got one thing right, Haskoy going past the post three places ahead of Emily Dickinson in second, but what he didn’t do correctly was to satisfy the stewards that there was nothing wrong with his riding. They found he had caused interference to fourth home Giavellotto, trained by Marco Botti and ridden by Neil Callan.

They demoted Haskoy to fourth, promoting Giavellotto to third and also giving New London a knock-on promotion to second. It’s quite a big deal in prizemoney terms, second and third both doubling up their original earnings while Haskoy, far from gaining a profit on the deal after the £50k supplementary fee, is now in deficit. No wonder Beckett, “under the interference rules”, is planning an appeal.

If the last few days have been a changing of the guard in terms of the Monarch, it was very much a similar situation in the race itself. The previous five winners had all either been sons or grandsons of Galileo. Yesterday he didn’t have a representative and the only second generation runners were sixth-placed 150-1 shot El Habeeb, by Al Rifai, and last home Lizzie Jean (100-1), by Nathaniel. He died last summer, so a maximum of two more crops of three-year-olds can represent him as Classic contenders.

The winner, third-placed over the line New London and fifth home Emily Dickinson were all by Dubawi, Galileo’s sparring partner for the past decade. Now, with a freer field for a few years at least, he can enjoy a King Charles III-like interregnum at the top of the stallion charts until the next King of the Sires comes along.

For Varian it was a second St Leger triumph, following Kingston Hill eight years ago, but a first for David Egan, the highly personable and talented son of weighing room legend and shrewd bloodstock dealer, John.

I had the good fortune to be representing Jonathan Barnett, one of the owners in Varian’s sprinter Dusky Lord, along with part-owner Jennie Allen at her home course. We stood in the paddock together with trainer and rider before the race. Dusky Lord had a near impossible draw but ran well. I was delighted for both trainer and rider, for whom Eldar Eldarov looks a stayer to follow.

Over in Ireland Kyprios kept up the pressure in the staying ranks, the four-year-old seeing off fellow older gentleman Hamish in the Irish St Leger. By then his Goodwood Cup victim Trueshan had failed to deliver odds of 9-2 laid on in the Doncaster Cup, his erratic steering in the last 100 yards viewed low down from right on the winning line as Hollie tried to straighten him for a final flourish. Coltrane, expertly ridden by one of this site’s ambassadors, David Probert, was a deserved beneficiary of what Alan King clearly believes is the memory of Trueshan’s hard race at Goodwood behind Kyprios and Stradivarius on faster than ideal ground.

It was gloom all round for the Trueshan team of owners. Their best-known member, Andrew Gemmell, had taken the 10.30 train from King’s Cross, travel time 90 minutes and arrived via a taxi five minutes before Trueshan’s race – scheduled off time 2.45.

All through what remained of the afternoon, Tony Hunt, Andrew’s “eyes” for the day monitored the denuded Sunday service which promised delays and cancellations, so I thought it appropriate on such a day to offer a lift to Central London.

We had a lovely three hours listening to the Test match, reminiscing about the Queen – yes, I did meet her and shared a few words when she visited the Daily Telegraph and talked about reading the racing page every day! – and learning the latest about Andrew’s great staying hurdler, Paisley Park. What a day!

- TS