Racing: Dinos injured as Ascot terrain takes its toll
To the winners, like Attraction or Doyen, the glory; to the losers, the pain of defeat, only too literally in some cases. The fine stayer Mr Dinos, who lost his Ascot Gold Cup crown to Papineau on Thursday, is now one of the walking wounded after racing on the lightning-fast ground that prevailed all week at the royal meeting. Paul Cole, his trainer, one of several to express disquiet over the state of the underfoot conditions, yesterday revealed his charge as the highest-profile casualty of the meeting.
"He's really very sore," Cole said. "It's jarred-up soreness, rather than a specific injury, and I should think we'll have to wait for the autumn with him now. Some horses can go on fast ground, but I don't think many fancy it as firm as it was. I'll be more careful where I run him in future."
Another of the Whatcombe inmates, Chesham Stakes runner-up Brecon Beacons, showed signs of lameness after Saturday's race and Cole confirmed that the colt is another on the easy list. "You get all the best horses running at Ascot and the ground needs to be safe, and I don't think it was," he added bluntly. "But I suppose when the track is rebuilt a modern watering system will be put in, and not before time."
Red Fort, wide-margin winner of the Wolferton Stakes, is another showing signs of post-race wear and tear, and Michael Jarvis, his trainer, has warned against backing the four-year-old for his next planned target, the John Smith's Cup at York. "He is jarred up, but it's difficult to say quite how badly yet," he said. "The ground at Ascot was like a road. It is too early to say whether he will be able to run at York. It is a possibility, but I wouldn't want anyone to back him ante-post."
Even the all-conquering Godolphin team, which netted its best-ever tally of six victories at the Royal meeting, did not escape unscathed, as Highest, seventh to his stablemate Papineau in the Gold Cup, had to be put down after rupturing a tendon. But their major players were reported in fine fettle yesterday after their exertions, particularly Doyen, the new favourite for next month's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes after his scintillating six-length Hardwicke Stakes triumph on Saturday.
"Things are absolutely fine here," said Simon Crisford, the blues' racing manager, from the Dubai-based operation's Newmarket headquarters. "One or two are not 100 per cent, but that is normal and there are no significant problems whatsoever."
As far as the ground is concerned, it seems that one horse's street is another horse's Persian carpet. "Doyen, especially, has come back from his race well," Crisford added. "You would imagine that a horse like him, by Sadler's Wells, would be favoured by cut in the ground. However, he goes particularly well on fast ground. Actually, I think he goes on any ground."
The Godolphin team, headed by trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, were relieved to be back among the top winners after a frustrating series of near-misses during the spring and early summer. They should be so lucky. Yesterday at Warwick, Gerard Butler ended a losing run at any level that had lasted 165 days and 65 runners when Compton Eclaire got home by a head under Eddie Ahern in the 13-furlong handicap.
Jarvis, who took the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday with Rakti, had to settle for second place in yesterday's Group One feature with another ex-Italian horse, Maktub, back on the five-year-old's home ground in the Gran Premio di Milano. The 12-furlong contest went to German raider Senex, with last year's Derby runner-up The Great Gatsby, on his first run for John Gosden since leaving Aidan O'Brien, third.
There was an Irish triumph in another top-level contest abroad. For the second successive year Willie Mullins took the Grandes Course des Haies back to Bagnelstown, when his Cheltenham scorer Rule Supreme thwarted local hero Kotkijet's attempt to become the first horse to add the Gallic equivalent of the Champion Hurdle to a French Gold Cup victory earlier in the year. Ridden by David Casey, the Royal & SunAlliance Chase winner tracked Kotkijet throughout before taking command after the last to win by two lengths.
* The top jumping mare La Landiere has died, just weeks after being retired. The Richard Phillips-trained nine-year-old won 10 races, including seven in succession in the 2002-03 campaign which culminated in victory in the Cathcart Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Also a Racing Post Chase winner, La Landiere had been in foal to Classic Cliche at Wood Farm Stud in Shropshire.
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