Medicean showcases Fallon's art

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The Independent Online

It seems to be the season for closure among the jockeys' ranks. After Frankie Dettori's emotional Prince of Wales's Stakes victory on Fantastic Light at Royal Ascot and Michael Kinane's first Irish Derby win at the 18th attempt a week ago, we had here Kieren Fallon making up for what he himself calls "the Bosra Shambles".

In the Eclipse Stakes four years ago, the three-times champion was caught in a pocket and beaten on the 4-7 favourite Bosra Sham. Yesterday, in the 104th renewal of the first élite all-aged clash of the season, he produced an irresistible final-furlong drive to get Medicean past Grandera and beat him in the shadow of the post by a short-looking half length. Bach, the Ballydoyle second string, held on for third a neck behind, two heads in front of stablemate Black Minnaloushe, with the favourite Tobougg intervening.

With barely two lengths from Medicean's nose to Black Minnaloushe's tail, the pecking order among these middle-distance stars is probably not definitive. But for Fallon, the result on the day, his first Eclipse Stakes win, was what mattered. "I don't think much about the past," he said, "I usually look forward. But I'm pretty pleased to have got this one on the board."

The race developed into a series of cameo battles before the final engagement. Broche, running for Tobougg and Godolphin, won the phoney pacemakers' war when he shot past Darwin, acting for the Aidan O'Brien team, after a furlong. He held the call until approaching the quarter-mile mark, when Bach and Grandera sluiced past him and settled to slug it out to the finish up the gruelling Esher hill. Behind them, and fully four lengths adrift, Medicean was the middle one of a troika, with Black Minnaloushe and Tobougg at his flanks.

There is something inevitable about the progress of a horse getting the full Fallon right-arm treatment and the hill here is the best stage to spotlight a finisher. As the chasing trio closed on the leading pair, it was Medicean who became the point of the unerringly launched arrow. Barely had Grandera wrested the advantage from Bach than Medicean snatched it, four strides from the line.

The summer storm that drenched the course and played havoc with sport elsewhere came too late to affect fast-ground specialist Medicean, who was winning for the first time at ten furlongs after two top-class victories at a mile in the Lockinge Stakes and Queen Anne Stakes. "I wasn't bothered about the trip," said Fallon, "the only concern was the ground. I was worried driving down from Newmarket because there was a lot of rain around and I thought we'd be in trouble. He got away with winning the Lockinge with cut in the ground but it wasn't as good a field as the likes of this today."

For once, the two teams who have dominated the year, Godolphin and Ballydoyle, were vanquished, appropriately by the biggest of the British big-league players. Medicean runs in the red, white and blue of David and Patricia Thompson's massive Cheveley Park Stud and is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, one of the Newmarket establishment's directors. The four-year-old represents an outstanding success for the Cheveley Park's relatively new policy of making their own stallions out of home-bred colts.

Medicean, a son of Machiavellian, was one of the first of that new generation. Unraced at two, the chestnut, a horse of exceptionally level temperament, has this season more than fulfilled the promise for the future he showed last year. He will now drop back in distance again to the mile of the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, thus avoiding a clash over yesterday's distance with Galileo in the York International next month.

Medicean gave Stoute his fourth Eclipse win in nine years, and was sweet consolation for the short-head defeat last year, by the Ballydoyle 'iron horse' Giant's Causeway, of Kalanisi. "It was a fair race at a ferocious gallop, no hard-luck stories," Stoute said as he and devoted lass Angela Perry patted their latest star's dark, rain-soaked coat. "He's a real professional athlete, this horse."

The effort by Grandera, winner only of his maiden but third in the French Derby on his previous run, was wholly gallant but almost heartbreaking for James Fanshawe, his trainer. Fanshawe had scored the first of his three Group 1 victories in this race ten years ago and now Medicean has narrowly deprived him of two more – in the Lockinge Stakes he beat Fanshawe's charge Warningford in the last strides.

Tobougg, the 9-4 favourite, was doing his best work at the finish but had seemed ill at ease earlier, particularly on the turns. "He hated the fast ground," said rider Frankie Dettori of the Derby third.