Racing: Jarvis plans Chester Cup treble for Anak Pekan

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is the smallest and tightest racecourse in the land, the one with a run-in of 230 yards, the shortest of any track in Britain. They only deal in superlatives on the Roodeye and one will now have to be appended to Anak Pekan, who yesterday became only the ninth horse to win a second Chester Cup here.

It is the smallest and tightest racecourse in the land, the one with a run-in of 230 yards, the shortest of any track in Britain. They only deal in superlatives on the Roodeye and one will now have to be appended to Anak Pekan, who yesterday became only the ninth horse to win a second Chester Cup here.

The follow-up served to show what a certainty Michael Jarvis's gelding must have been 12 months ago. For yesterday he retained his title without the benefit of a recent run, from a mark 13lb higher, and drawn out somewhere near the banks of the Dee in stall No15. They had looked like the markers of defeat.

It proved, however, to be a marathon determined in the first few strides. Philip Robinson, on Anak Pekan, went hard left hand down at flagfall and found, much to his delight, that many of his fellow pilots on the inside were slow off the grid.

Anak Pekan was immediately plugged in behind a pace set by Frankie Dettori on Romany Prince. The tightness of Chester, its walled-in nature, lend the impression that horses, even in a long-distance race such as the Chester Cup, seem to be going faster here than anywhere else.

All 17 scooted round yesterday, but none scooted more easily than Anak Pekan, who swamped Swift Sailor on the final turn. This time he won by one length instead of five and at odds of 16-1 rather than 2-1.

"I thought he had it all to do with the extra weight and his draw," Jarvis said. "He had a lot on his plate and, a month ago, I didn't think he was the same as last year, not ready to run and backward. But, in the last 10 days, he has really blossomed. His initial speed allowed him to take up a position, and luckily those on the inside didn't seem to want to go that quick. After that, it was just a repeat of last year really."

Jarvis hopes the duplication will end there. Anak Pekan found it much harder work last season post-Deva when campaigned in pattern company. The five-year-old may not be up to that class and may be only a spring horse, so one race already glitters in the calendar and that is a year away. If Anak Pekan could win a third Chester Cup he would be the first to do so.

"We tried him in Listed and Group races last year, but there is a bit of a difference in those and he is a top-class staying handicapper," Jarvis added. "These heritage handicaps [such as the Chester Cup] have a maximum weight so why can't he come back for a third go next year?"

For many years Chester has been Barry Hills's Shangri-La and the Lambourn trainer did not let the trends down with a double via River Kintyre and Alumni. The latter won the Cheshire Oaks, which has a poignancy this year as it was named for the first time in memory of Robert Sangster, who swashed his buckle with great relish at this meeting for many years.

Hills was an old confederate of Sangster and victory here was of added significance. "There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of Robert so it's a special race to win," he said.

Hills does not fancy Epsom for Alumni as he believes she would not like the contours. He could not, though, resist throwing in a controversial thought about that Classic meeting.

"Everyone keeps asking whether the fillies will be supplemented for the Oaks," the trainer said, "but you might as well supplement for the Derby as it looks a weaker race. They're only talking horses in there at the moment."

A selection of winning trainers gave their thoughts on today's election. "I wouldn't want to back any of them each-way," Jarvis said, while Mark Johnston will not be supporting William Hague in his Richmond constituency.

"I don't think I can bring myself to do that," the Middleham trainer said. "It will probably be Liberal Democrat because there is no Scottish Nationalist standing. If I was in Scotland it would be dead easy. In fact, if we get independence and a Tote monopoly I'm going home."

Nap: Counsel's Opinion (Chester 1.30)

NB: Windy Prospect

(Chester 2.00)

Anak Pekan was a 16-1 winning tip yesterday for Sue Montgomery

Comments