Aga likely to send Sinndar off to stud

In the aftermath of a major championship boxing bout, the loser invariably demands a rematch, but racing, sadly, does not follow the same set of rules. The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday did not produce the set-to between Sinndar and Montjeu which many punters had hoped to see, with Montjeu running well below form in fourth, and it seemed unlikely yesterday that last year's Arc winner will ever get a chance to even the score. Indeed, it may be that both horses have now seen a racetrack for the last time.

In the aftermath of a major championship boxing bout, the loser invariably demands a rematch, but racing, sadly, does not follow the same set of rules. The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday did not produce the set-to between Sinndar and Montjeu which many punters had hoped to see, with Montjeu running well below form in fourth, and it seemed unlikely yesterday that last year's Arc winner will ever get a chance to even the score. Indeed, it may be that both horses have now seen a racetrack for the last time.

There is no official word as yet about the future for either Sinndar or Montjeu, although John Oxx, Sinndar's trainer, reported that the colt had arrived home in good shape at his yard near the Curragh on Sunday night after an uneventful journey back from France, along with two stable companions including Namid, the winner of the Prix de l'Abbaye.

"They came back late last night, they travelled well and have all eaten up so that is a bonus," Oxx said. "It was a great day to win a second Group One race as well as the Arc, everything went well for the whole weekend in fact and it is great when it all works out. The Arc is a race everyone wants to win and it is good for a three-year-old to prove himself against older horses and add it to his two Derby wins."

As to whether Sinndar will stay in training, Oxx said: "No decision has been made and there are plenty of other considerations than those of the trainer." If previous form means anything, Sinndar will now return to the breeding operation which produced him, and set about the rewarding business of producing new generations of Classic winners for the Aga Khan. Sinndar was the Aga's fourth Derby winner, following Shergar, Shahrastani and Khayasi, all of whom were retired to stud at the end of their three-year-old season.

Disappointing though this would be for racegoers, the level-headed assessment of the Aga and his advisors will surely be that Sinndar has nothing left to prove, and if they waver in that opinion, they need only consider the example provided by the horse who struggled home in fourth two days ago. Despite winning the King George in a canter earlier this summer, Montjeu has not managed to produce any form this season to match his win in the Arc 12 months ago, and as such could end this campaign with a lower official rating than the 135 he achieved at three.

Nigel Gray, the BHB's senior handicapper, said yesterday that Sinndar's provisional rating has been raised by 4lb to 132 after Sunday's race. "It is a great shame Montjeu was not able to show his true form. If he had he may have pushed Sinndar to a higher rating than 132. Sinndar may be capable of a higher performance but so far he has not needed to."

Timeform, however, now rate Sinndar on 135. "There is some restriction on how high you can go," Chris Williams, one of Timeform's senior handicappers, said yesterday. "Horses like Daring Miss [seventh] and Russian Hope [eighth] tend to hold the form down. You can knock holes in most of Sinndar's form, but this is probably his best effort, and puts him on a par with St Jovite, who won the Irish Derby by 12 lengths and the King George by six."

While the last Derby winner is now seemingly ready for retirement, one of the long-range favourites to be the next is a possible runner at Ascot this weekend. Nayef, a 25-1 chance for Epsom 2001 with the Tote, is among the entries for the Autumn Stakes, a race which was won by his half-brother, Nashwan, in 1988. Nashwan, of course, went on to win not just the Derby, but the 2,000 Guineas, Eclipse and King George too.

Before that, there is the small matter of a jumps season to consider, and one man who will be anticipating it more than most is James Fanshawe. Though better known as a Flat trainer, Fanshawe won the 1992 Champion Hurdle with Royal Gait and has taken delivery of Hors La Loi III, last year's Champion Hurdle runner-up.

Fanshawe will be Hors La Loi III's third trainer in 18 months, following Martin Pipe and François Doumen. "I'm absolutely thrilled to be training him," he said. "The first obvious race for him is the Bula Hurdle."

* Atlantis Prince, unbeaten in four runs including the Royal Lodge Stakes for Sean Woods, has been bought by Godolphin.

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