Independence day for Freedman

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The Independent Online

The panoply may have passed by but, unlike the Lord Mayor's affair, the names and faces sweeping up after the show here yesterday were much the same as those who had starred during the week's Royal extravaganza, as Frankie Dettori and Ed Dunlop, on the mark with Surprise Encounter in the Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday, teamed up again to take the opener, the Fern Hill Handicap, with the progressive filly Independence.

Dettori had found trouble a couple of times during the week when riding from off the pace, but had no such problems on the daughter of Selkirk, who was tackling a mile for the first time. "I dropped her out to help her get the trip," he said, "and she was always going so well that I had time to take her to the outside and win from there."

On a low-key day, Independence, bred at the famous Cliveden Stud near Taplow, may be one horse who has the potential to prove herself better than the herd. Cliveden's owner, Philip Freedman, whose father Louis' chef d'oeuvre was the 1987 Derby and St Leger hero, Reference Point, intends to give the big, rangy three-year-old a light summer in the hope she can, in time, step up to Pattern company.

As a grand-daughter of a half-sister to Reference Point, her value as a future broodmare has already been augmented by this Listed handicap win. "The long-term plan is the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket" Freedman said, "though whether this year or next year remains to be seen. Whatever happens, she should be better as a four-year-old."

John Gosden, whose charge Analyser gave him his fourth Britannia Stakes in six years on Thursday and maintained his record of having trained at least one winner at the Royal meeting every year since 1990, doubled up yesterday with Grampas in the feature handicap, the Ladbroke Handicap, and Binary File in the following three-year-old mile contest.

Grampas, carrying the same colours as El Gran Papa, last year's Britannia winner, was making a belated seasonal debut after a series of niggling physical problems and was a rare 20-1 success for a Kieren Fallon-ridden horse. Half an hour earlier, Pat Eddery had made his contribution towards scuppering punters by driving home Freefourinternet at the same price in the Listed New Stakes.

Funny Valentine started a well-backed 2-1 favourite for the five-furlong handicap on the strength of his fine third at 100-1 in the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday, but was thwarted by half a length by determined all-the-way winner Muja Farewell. The filly was bred by one Willie Carson. The former stalwart jockey of countless Royal Ascots, now a TV front-man with topper and box, owns a share in Muja Farewell with three friends.

In the novice fillies stakes, Lady High Havens paid a huge compliment to her Newmarket conqueror Silent Honor with a decisive length-and-a-quarter win. Before meeting Silent Honor, who trounced her on the bridle, Lady High Havens had come up against another David Loder star, Wednesday's Chesham Stakes victrix Seba.

She was a first Ascot winner for Newmarket trainer Paul d'Arcy, formerly with Sir Michael Stoute, and, as a 50,000gns yearling, easily the most expensive member of his small string. "She looks a bargain now," he said, "and she will not be rushed."

The one face missing yesterday was the smiling one of Johnny Murtagh, the Royal week's champion with five winners. He was on duty at Down Royal on the day of Northern Ireland's richest Flat race, the £30,000 12-furlong handicap that masquerades as the Ulster Harp Derby.

On the 6-4 favourite Masilia, trained and owned – like his real Derby winner of last year, Sinndar – by John Oxx and the Aga Khan, Murtagh hit the front a furlong out and held on for a dead-heat in the face of a flying finish from Citizen Edward. The only English challenger, Tough Leader, faded from the lead to finish out of the first six.

This year's Derby form passed muster at the first time of asking when Epsom fifth Storming Home lived up to his name in the King Edward VII Stakes on Friday. At Longchamp today, the worth of the French middle-distance Classic form comes under scrutiny as Prix du Jockey-Club second Chichicastenango faces five rivals in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris. The colt, beaten just half a length by Anabaa Blue at Chantilly, is opposed by a pair each from the stables of Aidan O'Brien and Criquette Head-Maarek.

The Ballydoyle first string is Hans Andersen, who is unbeaten in minor races at Cork, accompanied by Bonnard, last seen when third to Dilshaan and Tamburlaine in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last year. Neither are judged fit at home to polish the shoes of their Derby-winning stablemate.

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