Half Glance not enough to halt Cecil's decline

Click to follow

Henry Cecil won the May Hill Stakes for the 11th time here on Town Moor yesterday. He may well win it again next year but, after that, we will be entering unknown territory. Cecil suggested at Royal Ascot that he might soon be enjoying a few more lie-ins and, yesterday, he revealed that his horizon stretched no further than 12 months' time.

There is precious little young stock for the trainer to develop as three-year-olds next year after a season of sickness and misfortune at Warren Place. Cecil now finds himself in the destructive loop of being without rough material to buff for next year. If the juveniles of 2002 are no good he may be persuaded that the game which has blessed him for over 30 years has now turned.

"You've got to be positive and I'm looking forward to continuing training next year," he said. "The year after that we'll just have to wait and see. We've had too many things go wrong and we are not going to catch pigeons now. The horses have been ill and an awful lot of them have gone wrong. Maybe I'm a bit thin on the ground with decent horses as well.

"I haven't got that many two-year-olds so, next year, by the time they're all weeded out, I'll probably have fewer horses. Although I shall continue next year, and I hope to do very well, don't expect me to take on the giants. I haven't got the ammunition."

Yesterday, however, a good samaritan appeared at the roadside in the shape of Half Glance, who is down to 10-1 in a place for next year's 1,000 Guineas, although you can still get 14-1 with Ladbrokes, in the aftermath of her Group Three success.

The performances of many Warren Place horses this season have been characterised by the engine cutting out in the closing stages of their races. Here, however, Half Glance started to kick on just at the time when so many of her workmates have faltered. "She tended to come on and off the bridle during the race, but she's improving and got the trip well," Cecil said.

The filly's next destination will be determined by the presence of Luca Cumani's Guineas favourite, Gossamer. As she is likely to run in the Fillies' Mile at Ascot, Half Glance is expected to be a contender for the Prix Marcel Boussac on Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe afternoon.

It was appropriate on Town Moor's ladies' day that the Doncaster Cup should go to the only filly in the race. There is no immediate plan for Alleluia, though there was a brave effort by one bookmakers' representative to persuade connections that the Cesarewitch was a good option. "It's worth £125,000," he said. This did not seem to greatly impress Alleluia's part-owner Kirsten Rausing, heiress to the Tetrapak billions. She probably had as much in her purse.

"Far be it for me to spoil a good betting opportunity," Ms Rausing said, "but I'm only interested in Group races. The aim was to get some black type. Now she has achieved that she could be retired, although I would like her to stay in training next year."

If she is allowed to continue, Alleluia has the components to become quite a celebrity. Good stayers are good business for racing. A top staying filly would be a shining billboard for the sport.

Yellow is a quite inapt livery for Alleluia. She showed courage as well as quality yesterday, pumping to the front two furlongs out and then holding the challenge of Rainbow High. She briefly crossed the colt on the stagger to the line, but it was not a moment which changed the shape of the result. It was, nevertheless, a tense passage during the stewards' inquiry for her jockey, young Jamie Mackay, whose relief when the result was confirmed was tempered by a three-day suspension for careless riding.