Racing: Circular Quay stirs Tabor's dreams

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The Independent Online

The axis may tilt wildly but the carousel keeps turning. Another procession of yearlings went under the hammer at Tattersalls yesterday, and one of them even left the ring in the guise of a dove - a filly by one of the Maktoum family's stallions, Cape Cross, being purchased by John Magnier, the Coolmore boss, for 170,000 guineas.

Whatever the substance of this gesture, it would be ironic if this filly happened to turn into a champion. The Maktoums are well aware that their fortunes on the racecourse are impeded by their refusal, nowadays, to buy yearlings by the élite Coolmore stallions. But they apparently have deeper reasons for this boycott than mere resentment over the fact that hardly any traffic has ever flowed the other way.

For their part, meanwhile, Coolmore insiders claim that they do not care where a yearling might come from, so long as they like the individual - the simple inference being that they have scant regard for the quality of Darley Stud's stallions.

Insignificant though she may be, in the overall scheme of their investment, this daughter of Cape Cross is therefore a valuable token of their claim that any grudge is certainly not mutual. John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed's representative here yesterday, gratefully accepted his cue. "We're delighted," he said. "And it shows the broad appeal of Darley stallions."

At this stage, she remains a mere acorn. The beguiling essence of these exchanges is that nobody can envisage how mighty the oak may become. After all, Sir Percy himself was sold here for just 16,000 guineas 12 months ago.

She would do well to match the achievements of the filly Michael Tabor, one of Magnier's investment partners, remembers recruiting at the breeze-ups in Florida seven years ago. Circle Of Life, as she was christened, went on to win a Grade One race and her son by Thunder Gulch is now favourite for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Circular Quay is unbeaten in three starts, having himself won a Grade One race at Saratoga last month with an extraordinary move around the field. "It was hard to believe," Tabor said. "The commentator said he had to make up 15 lengths, and it was certainly 12, and yet he came through to win by four. And that was over seven furlongs, which we would hope would be short of his best trip."

The colt warms up for his big target at Churchill Downs next month in the Lanes End Futurity Stakes on the new Polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday. Tabor makes no apology for promoting him even beyond Dylan Thomas, who makes his dirt debut in New York on Saturday, in his priorities this weekend.

"At this stage, he's still the dream horse," Tabor explained. "We can still hope that he's one of the real ones, and it's especially exciting given that he was home-bred. Todd Pletcher [his trainer] says that he is one of those horses that does nothing at home, that he just puts his head down, but he seems to come alive at the races."

Most of the Coolmore horses are trained at Ballydoyle, of course, and hopes remain high there that Kieren Fallon will be permitted to ride Yeats in the Melbourne Cup.

No formal notice had been received yesterday, but there were suggestions from Australia that the local racing authorities are disposed to reciprocate Fallon's licence in Ireland - even though he is suspended from riding in Britain.

Otherwise Yeats will be ridden by Michael Kinane, who partnered him in the Goodwood Cup and has already won a Melbourne Cup on Vintage Crop.

Intriguingly, there is also some talk that Fallon may yet seek clearance from the Kentucky authorities to ride the Ballydoyle horses at the Breeders' Cup. Last month he indicated that he would not complicate his lawyers' existing responsibilities, but the door apparently remains ajar for him to try his luck.

Two of the Turf's working class heroes - Sergeant Cecil and Rising Cross - are meanwhile due to meet in the Prix Royal Oak at Longchamp on 22 October.

'Sportsman' shuts down

Despite a rise in sales in recent weeks, the Sportsman was forced to abandon publication last night.

A deal over the continued financing of the racing and sports newspaper foundered. Begun in March this year, the London-based paper relaunched in August to focus more on racing.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Desert Chief

(York 3.25)

NB: Roheryn

(York 2.50)