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Skyline the limit for Desert and positive Heartache for Moore

25/09/2017
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GELDING a horse, basically, rules them out of the majority of ‘major league’ Classics, the St Leger at Doncaster certainly among them. So, when training legend, David Elsworth, sent Desert Skyline to the vet, before he had even run, options were automatically reduced for the erstwhile youngster. There again, who would have predicted that the now 3yo son of Tamayuz, sold as a yearling for the not excessive sum of €40,000, would turn out to be so good. With the final Classic of the UK season ruled out as a target, Elsworth found another, the 2m2f Group 2 Doncaster Cup, the highlight of the third day at the St Leger Festival.

The only 3yo among nine runners, Elsworth’s charge was sent off favourite under Silvestre de Sousa. With a circuit to go, they were stone last, passing the winning post behind all eight rivals. The next occasion they encountered the same marker, the time it mattered, they were in front and powering away from 7yo Thomas Hobson, 8yo Sheikhzayedroad, as well as 9yo duo Clever Cookie and High Jinx, to record an impressive victory for his somewhat aggrieved trainer. “I don’t know why geldings can’t run in the Derby,” he said. “Basically we want to know who the best 3yo is and if he happens to be a gelding then he’s the best.

“I realise the breeding implications; you want the Derby winner to reproduce, but that’s not the point. If he isn’t the best 3yo, he isn’t the best. “However, my opinion is not going to change the rules, is it?” For the horse, who won two of his juvenile starts, it was a first victory of 2017 and the master trainer has an exciting stayer in his capable hands. Elsworth added: “It’s quite a big call to run a 3yo over two and a quarter miles. It hurts but he’s tough. “He’s only three and it’s tough out there. It’s not like driving a car round the M25 when you just pull them out and go. “It looked like that but they have to dig deep and work hard.

He’s still immature but he’s tough and I was very pleased with him. “As a 2yo colt he was naughty,” he said. “He was very active, always messing around and I’m sure he wouldn’t have been as good a performer if he hadn’t been cut. “His lass is Marian, she’s Hungarian and a wonderful girl. This horse and her are soul mates: a lot of the credit goes to her as he always has a smile on his face and she’s a big contributory factor; happy horses are winning horses and he’s happy. “He’s run consistently well at a high level and I’m sure you might be hearing of him again next year, he’s going to be around for a while.”

Heartache greeted the connections of speedster Havana Grey after their 2yo was, ultimately, outsprinted by the filly of that name in the 5f Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes. Trained by Clive Cox and the highlight of a Ryan Moore treble, Heartache appeared a juvenile filly from the highest echelons when winning the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, the daughter of Kyllachy then disappointed in the Prix Robert Papin, won by Unfortunately, like Havanna Grey, prepared by Karl Burke. That was in late July and, on her first start since, she fully endorsed the impression created at Ascot because the runner-up is a serious juvenile speedster and the pair were well clear of the third, May Girl.

For the 75 racing fans who lease Heartache as part of their £1,995 membership of the Hot to Trot syndicate, this was a highly enjoyable day in its own right, as had been the sweltering summer afternoon when their pride and joy captured the Queen Mary Stakes. It appeared a ‘two horse race’, a duel, a match, on paper and so it proved! “That was top class,” said Clive Cox, six days on from the success of exceptional stable flagship Harry Angel at Haydock. “It was a really pleasing performance. Havana Grey is a special horse in his own right and there were four and a half lengths back to the third. “I think she could get 6f and we have nothing to lose by giving it a go in the Cheveley Park.

She is developing and growing, so she is an awfully nice filly to look forward to for next year.” The good news for regular jockey, Adam Kirby, who could not do the 8st 12lb allotted to Flying Childers fillies, is runners carry 9st in the Cheveley Park, meaning he will be able to regain the ride on Heartache. The good news for Karl Burke is Havana Grey lost nothing in defeat except the race. “He ran great and was beaten by an improving filly,” said Burke. “I saw her in France and she now looks bigger and stronger, which I said to Clive before the race, and he agreed. “I half thought when my jockey, PJ McDonald, came back in he’d say the horse hadn’t quickened with him like he normally does, but PJ said he quickened well and he couldn’t believe the other horse came by him.”

Kirby had started the day in perfect fashion combining with Roger Teal and Tip Two Win, one of two juveniles in the handler’s care, to land the opening 7f Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes, a race won by a certain Frankel in 2010. Homebred by Mrs Anne Cowley, the 2yo son of Dark Angel, having his fourth start, was winning for the first time since making a victorious debut at Windsor in July. “It’s lovely for a small yard like ours to have a go against the big boys and come out on top,” said Teal. “I have a great little hardworking team and it pays off on days like today. This is great for the yard. “I don’t know about running him again this year as I’m worried about the ground,” he said. “It might be best to finish on a good note.

“He’s only little but has a massive heart and a huge stride for a little horse; he rides bigger than he looks.” Teal’s success was followed by victory for a man rather more used to winning at the big meetings as Aidan O’Brien took the 7f Group 3 Sceptre Stakes with Music Box who landed the fillies and mares contest with a bit in hand under Moore. A 3yo daughter of Invincible Spirit, she was having her 16th start of 2017, a campaign which began at Dundalk in March. “That is her 16th run since the end of March, so she has been busy, but she is very tough,” said Coolmore UK representative Kevin Buckley.

As in the Doncaster Cup, the 1m6f Mallard Handicap was won by the only 3yo in the contest with Time To Study emerging victorious, gaining some compensation for PJ McDonald but denying Moore a fourth winner on the day, aboard Byron Flyer, by a head. “The Cesarewitch Handicap is a realistic aim,” said trainer Mark Johnston’s son and assistant Charlie. “The weights are already out and you’d imagine he’d be well in. I can’t see any reason why he shouldn’t stay and he would go there a relatively fresh horse.” Owned by Abdulla Al Mansoori, the 3yo Motivator colt has now won half of his eight career outings, each time in single figure field sizes, a scenario he will certainly not encounter in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket! Cox and Kirby combined to record their respective doubles with Blue Laureate in a mile juvenile maiden and UAE trainer, Ismail Mohammed, was also on the scoreboard: he saddled Amazour to win a 6½f handicap under James Doyle before Moore completed his treble, partnering Pivoine to land the finale for Sir Michael Stoute.

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