Racing: Frizzante completes a feast for Fanshawe

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Frizzante completed a week of plenty for the skeleton man, James Fanshawe, here yesterday, collecting the July Cup, a second Group One race to add to the Falmouth Stakes won by Soviet Song. It was, according to the lean Newmarket trainer, the outstanding 48 hours in his 14 years with a licence.

It was a shared double with the jockey Johnny Murtagh, whose name is again surrounded by neon after a stuttering interlude to his career.

Murtagh already has two Derbys in the locker and needs no advertisement as a rider, yet the 34-year-old has been drifting a little. The Irishman is no stranger to the canvas, having recovered from drink-induced problems earlier in his sporting life and was looking up at the ropes again last season when weight problems forced him to take a sabbatical.

A new life in England began after Murtagh severed ties with John Oxx in his homeland. But he had hardly hung up his clothes before he fell out with his new training confederate, David Loder, this season. Matters grew rancid between the two from the moment Murtagh questioned the trainer's hard working of his horses on the Newmarket trial grounds.

The jockey himself has no problem with his personal work ethic. He has been flitting between his Newmarket base and Co Meath home all season in an effort to re-establish a career. "I've got to know people better. You just don't come over to England and expect to be getting on every fancied horse. You have to put work in and get the contacts," he said.

"I've been going racing day to day and consistently doing 8st 9lb. The weight is no problem. I think I was in the shop window before this. But this will have helped. I'm here when anyone wants me."

The evidence of the first two races yesterday suggested that those drawn high might as well be loaded into the stalls backwards and when it came to the July Cup the sprinters positioned next to the far rail made every effort to take decisive advantage of the ballot.

The pace from the outset was blistering over by the marquees. Exceed And Excel, the colt bought from Australia for a reported £8m by Sheikh Mohammed, was the first bullet, shortly to be joined by Patavellian, drifting over from his draw in the middle of the course. Seeking The Dia, the Japanese-trained horse, tucked in neatly on the rail.

Frizzante, a 14-1 chance who emerged from stall 18, was way back. "She wasn't able to go early on and if I'd tried to hustle and bustle I might just have got to her," Murtagh reported. "So I just let her find her feet."

Just as the cameras panned in on the supposed favoured bunch though, the tortoises which had been left behind at the start began to surge into contention on the stands side. Frizzante was followed through by the 100-1 shot Ashdown Express, with Balmont in third at 25-1. The first single-figure-drawn finisher was Antonius Pius in seventh place.

It was a triumph for the bookmakers and the home side, which filled the frame and repelled the cosmopolitan visitors from Hong Kong, Australia, France, Ireland and Japan. Europe's most valuable sprint was again a disaster for Godolphin, who have now saddled 12 runners in the race, many well fancied, and have yet to supply anything better than fourth. Country Reel was 11th yesterday, three places in front of Kheleyf.

The biggest winners, though, were the winning connections. "It's been a fantastic meeting," Fanshawe said. "Frizzante's been one I've been allowed to take my time with. She didn't run as a two-year-old because she had immature knees. She won first time out as a three-year-old and, this time last year, she was rated about 80. She's just improved and improved. She never leaves an oat and she's as tough as nails.

"They went very, very quick early on and they were dying in front. That suited her because she loves to pass horses. That's her style. She wants to win."

Handicaps such as the Stewards' Cup are now just historical milestones for Frizzante. Further Group Ones now lie on the horizon, with the Haydock Sprint Cup preferred to the Nunthorpe Stakes. "You grow more attached to the fillies, especially when they're five-year-olds," Fanshawe said. "You get a special affinity with them when they get it together."

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Loyal Tycoon

(Ascot 3.15)

NB: Spring Goddess

(Ascot 5.00)

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