Maybe it was the novelty of a horse from Italy beating one from Japan, maybe it was the realisation that the best animals from these islands were missing from the Group One contest. But it was certainly an atmosphere different from one that would have been prevalent had other visitors been successful at Old Trafford.
The International too was a contest to remember. Electrocutionist won and Zenno Rob Roy was second, but the rare image to take away from this encounter was the glorious moment a furlong out when five horses were locked together in line, an equine version of the Tiller girls. That Electrocutionist should emerge victorious was a triumph for size and the substance of Michael Kinane's jockeyship. It was a day when the Irishman's instinct for the location of the winning post was perfectly tuned.
He first timed his run perfectly to collect the Great Voltigeur on Hard Top, now a legitimate St Leger aspirant, and then he repeated the feat on an horse he had never previously ridden in a race. Kinane will remember Electrocutionist though, as will we all. The four-year-old was a massive presence from the moment they managed to squeeze him into the paddock. He is an animal so huge that his sheepskin noseband could have alternative employment as a draught excluder.
Curiously, as Zenno Rob Roy circled nearby, it was Electrocutionist who bore a rising sun on his colours. It was the dark green of Ballydoyle that was immediately to the fore, however, when the stalls opened. Kieren Fallon played his Ace early, while Kinane was seventh and last. At the entrance to the straight, when the field swung into the middle of the course, Electrocutionist was lobbing along gently. But there was a selection of good horses away in the distance.
At the furlong post came the symmetry close to the precision of a Red Square parade. Norse Dancer had a chance, as did Maraahel, while Ace was still there. Despite his name, it had been no jolting response from Electrocutionist, but once the huge horse got rolling he was a fearsome sight. "He's a fine big horse. A good colt," Kinane reported. "They were after going a nice pace and they started to race very early, so it was always going to be a long way to that last furlong. At the line I was looking for more ground and I was only going to get better with more distance." Electrocutionist can now be considered a worthy successor to Rakti or Falbrav, a horse which has now also made his name outside Italian borders. His trainer, Pisa-based Valfredo Valiani, is able to look forward to further exotic assignments. "Michael Kinane is a hell of a good jockey so I knew he had to have a reason to be back there," Valiani said. "It was a brilliant ride. I wasn't afraid with Mick on top of him and I know the horse and the fact that he takes a while to get it right. But he has got a great turn of foot.
"He's a horse that's improved and I think he'll improve some more. I've always thought he'd be a great horse for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. And there's the option of the Breeders' Cup [Turf] as well."
Electrocutionist's general price of 14-1 for Longchamp suggests yesterday's was not an outsanding renewal of the International Stakes. Maybe so. But, as a spectacle, it will outlive most others.
l Jockeys decided at York yesterday to boycott next Monday's meeting at Wolverhampton after safety concerns over the new team of stalls handlers employed by Arena Leisure, who own the course.
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