Racing: Damson keeps colts and O'Brien in check

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Damson strengthened her position at the head of the betting for next May's 1,000 Guineas with victory over the colts in the Phoenix Stakes, sponsored by Independent Waterford Wedgwood, at the Curragh yesterday. The daughter of Entrepreneur is the first of her sex since Eva Luna in 1994 to win the race, the initial Group One contest of the year for juveniles.

Damson strengthened her position at the head of the betting for next May's 1,000 Guineas with victory over the colts in the Phoenix Stakes, sponsored by Independent Waterford Wedgwood, at the Curragh yesterday. The daughter of Entrepreneur is the first of her sex since Eva Luna in 1994 to win the race, the initial Group One contest of the year for juveniles.

Significantly, too, the filly is a first, but surely not last, winner at the highest level for her trainer, David Wachman, son-on-law of Damson's part-owner John Magnier and tipped in bar rooms and betting shops across Ireland to take over at Magnier's Ballydoyle headquarters should Aidan O'Brien's skills show signs of waning.

With the perfect response, O'Brien saddled four winners on the same Curragh card, including Silk And Scarlet, who is now second favourite to Damson for the 1,000. Even better demonstrations of O'Brien's skills came with the victories of One Cool Cat, who has nearly broken his trainer's heart with his own dodgy-ticker problems this year, and the success of the former invalid Solskjaer.

There were no signs of any problems for One Cool Cat as he recorded a cosy one-length call over The Kiddykid with a supremely confident ride by Jamie Spencer which received the biggest cheer of the day.

"I can't tell you how relieved I am," O'Brien said. "He's so exciting now. "He has York [the Nunthorpe Stakes] and Haydock [Stanleybet Sprint Cup], as the two races he has left."

Magnier gave all the credit for the win to O'Brien. "I told Aidan under no circumstances to run One Cool Cat. He's defied us all. He insisted on running and had huge faith in him.

"It would have been the easy thing to retire him and, to be honest, that's what I wanted to do. I'd had enough. Aidan has sorted the whole thing out, and how to ride him."

When told of Magnier's remarks, O'Brien said: "He'd say that, but he's still the boss." With options open for One Cool Cat there are also exciting prospects ahead for the trainer to revitalise his year with Solskjaer.

"Solskjaer had an injury at two which he should never have come back from," O'Brien said. "We thought he was nearly our best two-year-old and that's why we called him Solskjaer, but he tore all his ligaments off his hock. We'll train him for a big one, maybe the Irish Champion."

This day, though, belonged to Damson and Wachman, who now trains a filly that is a top-priced 14-1 for the first fillies' Classic of 2005. "It's a big relief to have that over with," the trainer said, "and we'll think about the Cheveley Park [at Newmarket next month] now."

While Kieren Fallon was enjoying Group One success on Damson, Frankie Dettori enjoyed smaller but equally significant pickings with a double at Windsor as he moved on to 109 for the season, four clear of the champion. Dettori was cut to 6-4 from 15-8 with Coral to be crowned champion.

* Somnus landed the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest for trainer Tim Easterby at Deauville yesterday in the hands of the American Gary Stevens.

* The Independent Form Guide tipped 50-1 winner Dunaskin at Haydock on Saturday.

Jockeys' Championship: Coral: 4-5 K Fallon, 6-4 L Dettori, 7-1 S Sanders, 14-1 D Holland. William Hill: 8-11 Fallon, 7-4 Dettori, 6-1 Sanders, 12-1 Holland.

1,000 GUINEAS 2005 William Hill: 12-1 Damson (from 14-1), 16-1 Silk And Scarlet (from 25-1), 20-1 Suez, Whazzat, 25-1 others.

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