Carson is in favour

All Willie Carson's previous trespasses this season were forgiven yesterday when he gave Celeric an inch-perfect ride to take yesterday's Northumberland Plate and land a gamble. The four-year-old, trained by David Morley at Newmarket, was backed at 9-1 in the ante-post market and from 7-2 to 2-1 favourite on the course.

A tricky sort of ride who has been known to idle in front, Carson kept him off the pace among horses until the field, led by Highflying, turned into the straight. As Foundry Lane took over, to be tackled almost immediately by the market's second choice Snow Princess, Carson began to weave through the pack.

Inside the final furlong he slipped Celeric through a gap between Snow Princess and the fading Foundry Lane, and the gelding ran on well up the rails to win by a cosy three-quarters of a length.

It was a bad day all round for the bookies at Newcastle, where the first six favourites went in. Celeric, owned and bred by his trainer's brother- in-law Chris Spence, was 53-year-old Carson's third winner of the Pitmen's Derby; he rode the first, Amateur, 28 years ago - and he said of the son of Mtoto: "He's a bit of a character, and making it difficult for him keeps him interested. If he's not in a bit of bother, then he doesn't bother."

At Newmarket one of Carson's regular partners, Gabr, took the Group Three Van Geest Criterion Stakes, with Richard Hills deputising. The globetrotting six-year-old, back with Robert Armstrong this season, beat the subsequent Group One winner Soviet Line over a mile early in the season but had been disappointing since, hence his odds of 14-1.

But switched back to seven furlongs to counteract a tendency to pull, he was far too good for his rivals yesterday, with three lengths to spare over Inzar.

The Henry Cecil-Pat Eddery-Khalid Abdullah team, responsible for Dushyantor in Ireland today, got their weekend off to a bright start with an impressive victory from the unexposed Bequeath in the Fred Archer Stakes.

The son of Rainbow Quest, racing for only the fourth time, quickened on demand inside the final furlong to stride impressively clear. There are some high-flying plans for the chestnut, with next Saturday's Eclipse Stakes - in which Michael Hills has been confirmed the rider of Pentire even if his Derby winner Shaamit runs - now a possible target.

Over in France at Auteuil, Mysilv's bid to become the first British-trained winner of the French Champion Hurdle failed by two lengths. The gallant Charlie Egerton-trained mare tried to make all in the pounds 100,000 event, but was headed three out by the eventual winner Earl Grant.

It was 15 lengths back to the third horse Montperle, and the jockey Jamie Osborne said: "She ran and jumped her heart out and lost absolutely nothing in defeat."

Brett Doyle will miss his ride on Amfortas in today's Budweiser Irish Derby at the Curragh due to illness.

Doyle, suffering from food poisoning, gave up his rides at Newmarket yesterday and will not be able to renew his association with Clive Brittain's shock King Edward VII Stakes winner in Ireland.

Darryll Holland, recently returned from riding in Hong Kong, will deputise on the son of Caerleon in the Curragh feature.

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