Bijou D'Inde has the final word

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The Independent Online
For those who had been told a French horse would collect the St James's Palace Stakes yesterday the morning results section must have a reassuring look. Bijou D'Inde was the winner. The colt's connections are not exactly Gallic, however, as he is owned and trained by Scotsmen and when he breathes in after exercise each morning it is great gulps of North Yorkshire air which are taken into the bellows.

This was the Group One race that was billed as the showdown between the Guineas winners. Mark Of Esteem had won the Newmarket version and was running for the home side (despite carrying no British connection), while Ashkalani and Spinning World had captured the French and Irish equivalents for Chantilly and were thought to have it between them. Bijou D'Inde had lost in two of the Guineas and was considered little more than a member of the cast.

This lowly place in the production looked reasonable enough as the gawky chestnut set off in front, a figure to be shot at. As the Ascot bell tolled it seemed to signal his chances, Ashkalani sweeping by with ease. But then Bijou D'Inde jumped outside his bit part. Jason Weaver galvanised his mount to a serious reply up the rails and when the post arrived he was a head back in front.

Mark Johnston, the colt's trainer, supplied a military metaphor for all this, suggesting, in Corporal Jones style, that the French do not like it up them. It was not difficult to imagine the Middleham trainer as a nationalist as he disported himself in a waistcoat and tie of his family tartan.

Johnston admitted that when Bijou D'Inde first arrived at Kingsley House he was tempted to put him straight back in the crate and thump in some nails. "There were stages last year when I would have given him back if I could," he said. "But the first day he stepped on to the gallops he was very, very good."

This was the first time this year the terrain had been in Bijou D'Inde's favour. At Newmarket the dip had the same effect on him as the frozen lake on new-born Bambi, while the Curragh was too soft. Now the agenda includes the Eclipse Stakes and, later on, the Breeders' Cup Mile as Johnston's quest is to establish himself as a trainer of global capacity.

The opening mile race, the Queen Anne Stakes, provided an even more impressive winner in the shape of Charnwood Forest, who succeeded despite taking the course of a warped arrow up the straight. "He just hung a bit with me today and it took me a while to get him organised," Michael Kinane, the winning rider, reported. "But I did think he was a good thing."

The winner has a busy schedule ahead including the Sussex Stakes, Prix Jacques le Marois, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and, possibly, the Breeders' Cup Mile. By winter he may have a rep's mileage.

The Prince Of Wales's Stakes maintained the staggering posthumous success of the Moller brothers, who bequeathed funds to keep their chocolate and brown colours alive. Pentire carries the flag and yesterday First Island proved he is no Blackpool sands performer either. He broke the track record.

The winner was partnered by Michael Hills, who switched into Cain and Abel mode when he passed his twin brother, Richard, in the straight, flicking his brother's mount, Montjoy, across the snout with his whip as he surged through to success.

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