Dunlop joins Classics club

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As Sheikh Hamdan's blue and white silks flashed home on a Dunlop-trained horse, Willie Carson pumping hard for the line, it was just like the glory days of Salsabil and Shadayid at Longchamp yesterday. This time though it heralded a new era as Ed Dunlop, the 27-year-old son of Britain's champion trainer, John, registered his first success in a Classic with his first runner at that level, Ta Rib.

The filly held the late burst of the French favourite, Shake The Yoke, to give Britain its second success in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) this decade, after Culture Vulture in 1992. Third, for another aspiring young trainer, James Burns, was Ireland's Sagar Pride, as the three left the vaunted A Votre Sante and Housa Dancer, from the powerful Criquette Head and Andre Fabre stables respectively, in their wake.

As one would expect of the most gentlemanly and dignified of trainers, Dunlop snr's patrician features glowed with pride at his son's success. "I am happier than if it had been my victory," Dunlop said. "This was Ed's first big-race victory and his first win in France."

The victorious trainer, who took over the Newmarket stables of Alex Scott after the shooting of that trainer in September 1994, has picked up more than the habit of sending out winners from his father and was quick to attribute the success to others. "I must pay credit to Ta Rib's owner, Sheikh Hamdan. He made the decision to come here today and he's been proved right again," he said. "Willie Carson rode a brilliant race and told me afterwards that we should go for the Irish Guineas."

As Sheikh Hamdan also owns the second and third home in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, Matiya and Bint Shadayid, there may be other plans for Ta Rib. "We've got a couple of other fillies to consider for Ireland," Angus Gold, who has the enviable job of being the Sheikh's racing manager, pointed out.

Having managed to outpoint the French on their home turf with a filly that had not won a race of any description until 10 days ago, there was a degree of confidence behind the British contingent of six that went into the 10-runner colts' Classic, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains. It was misplaced.

Ashkalani and Spinning World comfortably kept the visitors at bay with Tagula, the longest-priced member of the raiding party, getting closest in third. Richard Hannon's Cayman Kai was fourth and the John Dunlop-trained Kahir Almaydan stayed on into fifth after making the running, but Gothenberg, Danehill Dancer and Don Micheletto were disappointing. The last-named, along with Shawanni in the fillies' Classic, showing that the Dubai- wintered horses are not making the same impression this year.

Ashkalani is likely to attempt to give the Aga Khan his first win in Britain since his acrimonious departure in 1990 when he contests the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, while Spinning World, who was supplemented for the Derby at a cost of pounds 8,000, is now 12-1 for Epsom with William Hill.


Poule d'Essai des Pouliches

1. TA RIB Willie Carson

2. Shake The Yoke Dominique Boeuf

3. Sagar Pride Olivier Peslier

9 ran. 3/4, 1/2. (Winner trained by Ed Dunlop, at Newmarket, for Hamdan Al Maktoum). Pari-Mutuel (includes a one-franc stake): 15.10; 2.30, 1.10, 2.80. Dual Forecast: 10.90.

Poule d'Essai des Poulains

1. ASHKALANI Gerald Mosse

2. Spinning World Cash Asmussen

3. Tagula Kevin Darley

10 ran. 3/4, 1/2. Cayman Kai (4th). (Winner trained by Alain de Royer Dupre, at Chantilly, for H H Aga Khan). Pari-Mutuel: 1.80; 1.10, 1.70, 3.50. Dual Forecast: 4.80.