Racing: Fallon and Riyadh reunite for the Pitmen's Derby

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The Independent Online

It seems a preposterous notion, but many trainers believe a Flat horse's career can be refreshed and scrubbed up by a spell over hurdles. In some instances it does indeed work, but there are plenty of Flat animals who resent having their bottom smacked at the end of two miles in soft ground, with intermittent jumping thrown in for good measure. Certainly it is not Riyadh's cup of tea.

It seems a preposterous notion, but many trainers believe a Flat horse's career can be refreshed and scrubbed up by a spell over hurdles. In some instances it does indeed work, but there are plenty of Flat animals who resent having their bottom smacked at the end of two miles in soft ground, with intermittent jumping thrown in for good measure. Certainly it is not Riyadh's cup of tea.

After a rewarding Flat campaign last season, Riyadh was sold out of Paul Cole's yard and transferred to Martin Pipe's Somerset stable, which may not be the unanimous haven of tranquillity for racehorses seeking a break after a summer of toil.

Riyadh clearly thought he deserved better treatment and failed to get his head in front at either Newbury, Haydock, Cheltenham or Aintree. He seemed to be yearning for the softies' game.

The four-year-old has clearly shown his thanks since being returned to the Flat, finishing fourth in the Chester Cup and, last Wednesday, benefiting from a torrid Kieren Fallon ride to collect the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting.

Riyadh now heads for another of the calendar's notable staying contests, Newcastle's Northumberland Plate on Saturday, for which he is one of the favourites. "Riyadh was given a terrific ride at Ascot by Kieren Fallon," Pipe said yesterday. "He's a great jockey.

"The horse had been disappointing over hurdles, but he loves the Flat and was a good fourth in the Chester Cup before Ascot. He's come out of the race well and is due to run in the Northumberland Plate with Fallon riding once again. We will check the horse out throughout the week but he seems fine."

While the gaze has been elsewhere, Pipe has covertly compiled a record of 35 winners and almost £150,000 in prizemoney during the course of the nascent jumps season. Yet, the trainer has never been shy about trying to harvest the bigger pots for stayers on the Flat. At the weekend, he also saddles Polar Red, who was last seen before a different racing public in the last race of the last day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Polar Red is owned by one of the Gosforth Park cheeses, but as Pipe is his trainer we can rest assured that he will not be what the Americans would call "a vanity runner". "Polar Red will run for Sir Stanley Clarke, who runs the racecourse," Pipe further announced.

Also prominent in the betting for a race which carries the great anachronism of the Pitmen's Derby is Bangalore, the winner of the Chester Cup two seasons ago.

Amanda Perrett's gelding missed all of last year through injury, but still looked as though he contained plenty of beans in victory at Kempton earlier this month. "He's a goer at the moment if the ground is okay," Mark Perrett, the trainer's husband, reported yesterday. "He's in good nick and we've trained him for the race. Genuine good to firm ground wouldn't be a problem, but he wouldn't want it any faster than that." The Newcastle going was yesterday described as good, good to firm in places. The track was being watered.

The class race of the weekend is at the Curragh, where High Chaparral tries to mop up his second Derby of the season on Sunday. The strength of the opposition to the impressive Epsom winner will be gauged today, when supplementary entries will be able to buy their way into the race.

One possible latecomer is the Prix du Jockey Club winner, Sulamani, though it is thought connections are leaning towards giving Pascal Bary's colt more time to recover from his Chantilly exertions.

The French Derby form could still be represented though by the runner-up, Act One, who will work this morning. "We're going to see tomorrow before we decide on his next race," Jonathan Pease, the grey's trainer, said yesterday. "He ran a good race [at Chantilly] but we were still a bit disappointed to be beaten. I'd possibly have liked it a bit softer."

High Chaparral is the hot 8-13 favourite for the Irish Derby with Irish bookmakers Cashmans, who rate Act One next best at 2-1.

Northumberland Plate (Ladbrokes ante-post odds): 5-1 Sarangani, 6-1 Riyadh & Mr Dinos, 8-1 Fantasy Hill, Bangalore & Taffrail, 10-1 Harlestone Grey & Johnny Oscar, 12-1 Archduke Ferdinand, Travelmate & Tees Components, 14-1 Damask Rose, 16-1 Murghem, Polar Red, Caqui D'or & Gracilis, 20-1 Evening Scent, Compton Commander, Ranville & Hugs Dancer, 33-1 Lord Jim, Alberich, Zibeline, Activist, Aker Wood, Quitte La France & Dubai Seven Stars, 50-1 Fatehalkhair, 66-1 Wintertide.

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