Bernstein more composed over sprint distances

Click to follow
The Independent Online

If Bernstein's display in the Shergar Cup Sprint here yesterday really was just a lungstretcher, the speed division has acquired another serious contender. The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old lowered the colours of the highly rated Godolphin colt Auenklang and although the winning distance was only a head, Bernstein was always calling the tune.

If Bernstein's display in the Shergar Cup Sprint here yesterday really was just a lungstretcher, the speed division has acquired another serious contender. The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old lowered the colours of the highly rated Godolphin colt Auenklang and although the winning distance was only a head, Bernstein was always calling the tune.

The son of Storm Cat failed in his two attempts over a mile, behind Sinndar, the subsequent Derby winner, in last year's National Stakes and last to King's Best in the 2,000 Guineas three months ago. But over six furlongs he seems set to follow in the hoofprints of Stravinsky, reinvented by Team Ballydoyle as a champion sprinter after Classic failure last year.

Racing for the first time since the Guineas, Bernstein seemed slightly ring-rusty early, with Mick Kinane having to keep him up to his business. "He is very fast," said O'Brien. "but Mick said he was racing very lazily. That was the result of trying to get him like that for the Guineas, to make him settle and relax. I had just trained him too light. He was just about ready for a racecourse gallop so we felt we may as well bring him here and let him gallop for this prize, and it was a nice way for him to come back. He will come on in leaps and bounds for this."

The next target for Bernstein will be the Haydock Sprint in 20 days' time, with the Breeders' Cup Sprint a longer-term aim.

Yesterday the colt provided the middle leg of a treble for Kinane, who also scored on his stablemate Turnberry Isle in the Juvenile and Romanylei, a first British winner for the young Irish trainer James Burns, in the opening Distaff.

Turnberry Isle, now unbeaten in two runs, stayed on well over the round mile to hold off Vicious Knight by a neck and will return to Ascot next month for the Royal Lodge Stakes. O'Brien said: "He is idle, but he has a good attitude and is tough." Remarkably, apart from the mighty Giant's Causeway, yesterday's pair were the first winners in this country from Ballydoyle this year.

Plans for other of the afternoon's participants include a tilt at the St Leger for the game filly Littlepacepaddocks, who was just inched out by Sailing in the Oaks after attempting to make all, and a venture to Australia for the Melbourne Cup for the stayer Arctic Owl, who held on to take the mile-and-a-half Classic by a head from Murghem.

The day's six races - which all produced photo-finishes - formed the second running of the Shergar Cup, a gimmick team points competition based on the nationality of owners (for the record, Europe beat the Rest Of The World 157-83) and loosely styled on the Ryder Cup. But, given that punters care only that the horse they backed wins and little about who owns it, the concept is unlikely to stir the passions of the golf model.

However, the afternoon's crowd was 18,650, nearly 50 per cent up on the corresponding day here last year - although it was not clear whether that was due to the presence of the England football coach Kevin Keegan and his highly successful youngsters' soccer masterclass and a rock band after racing, or the fact that some top-class jockeys from around the world were present.

None of the three first-timers over here was able to record a victory, although the young Italian superstar Mirco Demuro showed the style that has made him his country's champion for the past three seasons at the age of 20 on Boast, third in the Distaff, and SpiritOf Love, short-head runner up inthe Stayers. Singapore's hero Saimee claimed a couple of third places on Vita Spericolata andShadowless.

Saimee, however, had a less happy first ride on Herbshan Dancer in the Stayers. The six-year-old gelding, who was carrying 43lb more than his true handicap weight, was tailed-off by the straight and despite being allowed to coast in, broke down close home and was dismounted. The experienced Saimee was visibly angry as he led the distressed horse in. "He should not have been running in this class," he said.

With £400,000 prize money, running right down to the also-rans, on offer, there was always going to be the temptation to run no-hopers if the races did not fill which, with only 48 instead of a full house of 10 in each contest, they did not. If the Shergar Cup is to survive as a spectacle the framing of the races is one of the first things to be addressed by the organisers.

Comments