Count keeps Haggas on an upward curve

While the woolly jumpers were trying to squeeze out the Flat season with some stirring performances at Aintree, Wincanton and Towcester yesterday, there was still some important clues for next year's Classics taking shape at venues as disparate as the San Siro and Yarmouth.

While the woolly jumpers were trying to squeeze out the Flat season with some stirring performances at Aintree, Wincanton and Towcester yesterday, there was still some important clues for next year's Classics taking shape at venues as disparate as the San Siro and Yarmouth.

No race was more important for Willie Haggas than the Gran Criterium in Milan in which Count Dubois gave the Newmarket trainer a cherished Group One victory and underlined the merit of the 2,000 Guineas and Derby favourite, Nayef, who had beaten him hollow by nearly seven lengths at Ascot last time.

"I am still shaking," said Haggas after the race. "I hoped he would win and the soft ground here certainly suited him. He stays well and was given a very good ride by Basil [Marcus]. The Italian Derby next season will be his target."

For Haggas the success was vindication of bold campaigning with his horses this season that has brought 45 winners in Britain and runner-up spot in the Group One Prix de l'Abbaye with Superstar Leo.

John Dunlop's Golden Snake completed a British double with a win in the Group One Gran Premio Del Jockey Club.

A trainer with less reason to celebrate was Aidan O'Brien, whose King's County finished a neck behind Count Dubois and who had to endure his three runners in Saturday's Racing Post Trophy being outspeeded by Dilshaan and Tamburlaine. O'Brien at least had the consolation of a success for his highly-touted Ishiguru in a £9,000 maiden race at Naas. Ishiguru started at odds of 2-9 and won by 11 lengths.

Tamburlaine, meanwhile, was the horse that punters wanted to link up with for next year's 2,000 Guineas and was cut to 20-1, from 25-1, by Ladbrokes following comments by his trainer, Richard Hannon, that the colt is his best prospect since Tirol, winner of the Newmarket Classic in 1990.

Making her debut in Classic betting was Autumn Rhythm, a Henry Cecil-trained daughter of Hernando. She scooted in at Yarmouth to earn quotes of 25-1 for the 1,000 Guineas and 20-1 for the Oaks from Coral.

The same firm have priced up next year's Cheltenham feature races and were active after the action at Wincanton in cutting the Paul Nicholls Shotgun Willie to 12-1 from 20-1 for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase and the same trainer's Fadalko to 16-1 from 25-1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

At Aintree, Tony McCoy survived two bone-shaking falls to underline his resilience as well as skill with a 32-1 four-timer. The champion was on the mark with Bustling Rio and Cardiff Arms as well as Charter Ridge and Lively Dessert for Jonjo O'Neill, who has been confirmed as the next trainer at Jackdaws Castle, which has been purchased by J P McManus. Richard Phillips has only just started his first year at the Gloucestershire yard.

The trainer Lenny Lungo received a £1,250 fine after being found in breach of the "non-triers" rules at Aintree. The horse concerned, Native Affair, was banned for 30 days while his jockey, Willie Dowling, was suspended for seven days.

Repertory was a 33.9-1 winner of the Group Three Prix du Petit Couvert at Longchamp yesterday. The winning trainer, Malcolm Saunders, said: "I started training late in life and wins like this make it all worth it for a small stable like mine. This horse has finished third in this race for the last two years and at the time I considered it like a win because it was a Group race. This is even better."

In the Group One Prix Royal Oak the improved André Fabre-trained stayer Amilynx saw off a six-strong Anglo-Irish challenge in convincing style in the hands of Olivier Peslier.

* Today's cards at Bangor and Leicester were abandoned yesterday due to waterlogging.

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