Clerkenwell puts Lynch on map

YORK EBOR MEETING: A cool success for a young Irish jockey puts his mentor in the shade as Dettori picks up another ban
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The Independent Online
The Ebor Handicap here yesterday was, as ever, supposed to be run over 14 furlongs, but this year it lasted for only 12.

When Fergal Lynch shook the reins on Clerkenwell with a quarter of a mile still to run, he sprinted five lengths clear of his field in almost as many strides, and the race was over as surely as if the two-furlong pole had been the winning post. The bare evidence of the race-return will show that Clerkenwell's eventual margin of victory was just three-quarters of a length, but this proves not that Michael Stoute's colt was fortunate to hold on, rather that the young man on his back is a jockey of unusual promise.

The season did not start well for Lynch, who had picked up two bans before even the end of the May meeting at Chester for, as he puts it, "going for a gap I thought was there". Barely a month later, though, he had ridden his first winner at Royal Ascot, and now he can add the Ebor too. If he can make the transition from apprentice to senior rider with even half the ease of yesterday's victory, his future is very bright indeed.

Certainly, Lynch has both the pedigree and connections to succeed. His family have owned and worked with horses for generations, while Kieren Fallon, recently appointed as Henry Cecil's next stable jockey, is a long- standing friend and weighing-room mentor.

Fallon finished third yesterday on Corradini after finding plenty of trouble in running - "he'd stolen the race and it was all over before I got there" - and Lynch was swift to acknowledge Fallon's assistance. "He's been a brilliant help in getting me in the right places and putting my name forward for rides," he said. "It looked easy today but it was a long way up that straight, it felt more like three miles than three furlongs. But I wasn't really worried as all this horse does is gallop, and they were never going to catch him from two out."

Much the same was true of Key Change, winner of the Yorkshire Oaks, who repelled any number of challenges up the straight without ever appearing likely to succumb. Stamina is, after all, what John Oxx's filly possesses in abundance, and when the ground eases this autumn it is an attribute which could prove particularly valuable.

"Soft going seems to make a big difference to her so we were a little pessimistic today," Oxx said. "Soft ground over a mile and a half would probably improve her again."

Twelve furlongs with some cut in the turf is, in nine years out of 10, precisely what you find in Paris on Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe day. Key Change is, as yet, not entered at Longchamp, but could be added to the field shortly before the race.

"We'd be happy to supplement if she won another race and had put some more money in the bank," Oxx said. "Her owner [Lady Clague] loves to tackle big races." Key Change's ticket to France could be booked in either the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp on 15 September, or the Irish St Leger at the Curragh a week later.

The principal loser in the Yorkshire Oaks was Lanfranco Dettori, who picked up a four-day ban for irresponsible riding on Russian Snows, who was demoted from third to sixth after making contact with Whitewater Affair. Dettori has served eight days in suspensions this year, and a ban of another four would, under new Jockey Club procedures, incur a further penalty of two weeks. Dettori may appeal against yesterday's decision, but this was hardly a gross miscarriage of justice and the champion will need to take great care not to cause further offence in the coming weeks.

It would not do, for instance, to lose the ride on Abou Zouz, the Gimcrack Stakes winner. David Loder's colt will next appear in the bonus-laden Houghton Sales Stakes, a race the trainer won last year with Rio Duvida.

Results, page 24