Racing: Ayr races are halted as Winston breaks jaw

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The Independent Online

Robert Winston, leading the race for the jockeys' championship, broke his jaw in three places in an horrendous fall at Ayr last night. The 25-year-old Irishman was taken to hospital after his mount Pearl's A Singer slipped and crashed to the ground, catapulting her rider through the rails, on the home turn on the fifth race on the card. Another horse was brought down in the incident, two other jockeys were unseated and the remaining two races were abandoned.

Winston went into the meeting on 98 winners, four ahead of nearest rival Jamie Spencer and 12 clear of third-placed Seb Sanders in what was becoming a gripping three-way battle. But now his hopes of his first title must be slim. He was not knocked out in the accident but faces surgery and weeks of recovery. "He has been conscious and lucid throughout," said the Scottish track's clerk of the course Anthea Morshead, "but he has two fractures of the lower jaw and one of the upper. He is at Ayr General Hospital at present but will probably be moved to another at Kilmarnock, where there is a facial specialist."

Winston had spared no effort recently in his assault on the championship, having taken only one day off since the start of June, and was in red-hot form, with 16 successes in the past fortnight. Ironically, Sanders, who had won the opener at Ayr, rode the winner of the race in which Winston fell. Spencer added another at Lingfield during the evening.

At Haydock during the afternoon, Richard Hughes demonstrably earned his fee as he gave Notable Guest a brainy ride to take the Rose of Lancaster Stakes. With only five runners, a tactical contest was always on the cards and the early pace, set reluctantly by Perfectperformance, was pedestrian. Hughes was the first to react; with the leader looking increasingly uncomfortable on the firm ground, he sent Notable Guest to the front at half-way, wound up the gallop off the turn into the straight and kicked clear. The advantage gained was never ceded; indeed, the four-year-old, a 5-1 shot, was going away again at the finish, where he was three lengths in front of odds-on David Junior.

Hughes's reading of the situation made victory certain, but he may have been on the best horse anyway. Notable Guest, a powerful, rangy bay, is the type with which trainer Sir Michael Stoute excels, a well-bred, improving third-season horse, rewarding patience. The son of Kingmambo, stepping up to a Group Three success, is out of Yenda, a Group One-placed half-sister to Derby hero Quest For Fame from one of Khaled Abdullah's best families.

"He settled well when he jumped out," said Hughes. "The plan was to sit in and get him relaxed. But with the pace they were going he was starting to get too keen so I just let him stride on and once he was up there he relaxed again. I decided to start squeezing about half a mile out, and when I asked he really flew. He has been headstrong in the past but slowly but surely he's learned to relax and he's very much going the right way now."

The Rose of Lancaster Stakes had a fine record as a stepping stone; those who have taken the prize recently include subsequent Group One winners Mutamam, Greek Dance, Ekraar and Nayef. So has the day's other Group Three contest, the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket, with Soviet Song and Maid's Causeway two of its last three winners.

Three tough and progressive fillies fought out the finish of the latest renewal. Confidential Lady, on a four-timer, and Deveron went head-to-head through the last three furlongs but no sooner had the former mastered her rival than she was mugged on the line by Nasheej.

The Richard Hannon-trained winner, ridden by Pat Dobbs, had finished an arguably-unlucky third at Sandown last month to Confidential Lady. "She got trapped among runners that day," said Hannon, "and I was confident of reversing the placings." The daughter of Swain now has the Fillies Mile on Newmarket's Rowley Mile course pencilled in.

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