Racing: La Cucaracha scurries clear for Nunthorpe win

Hers was a victory which posted a first Group One win for Guy Reed, whose gold and black check colours, with pink sleeves and cap, have been trundling round Britain's racecourses since 1968. Along the way there have been the likes of Dakota and Warpath, also Shotgun, who finished fourth in Shergar's Derby, but never triumph at the highest level.

Reed used to have horses with Sam Hall and then Chris Thornton. "We won all the top handicaps," he said. "The Ebor, the Extel and the Manchester." Now, though, the owner stations his 16-strong string with Barry Hills, who has famously never won a Derby but has collected just about every other major race in the calendar. Until yesterday, however, the Nunthorpe too had escaped the veteran trainer's clutches.

"She's always been good, right from the very beginning," Hills said. "But it's only this year [at the age of four] that we've had her right and there's more to come yet. She's good and she'll get better. She doesn't want a lot of work. She needs nourishment not punishment."

If there was any chastening to be done yesterday it would have been pointed in the direction of Christophe Lemaire, for whom it was not a happy Nunthorpe journey on the French favourite, Chineur. The winner of the King's Stand Stakes here at the royal meeting left the stalls as if he was climbing out from under a duvet.

Lemaire apparently had no immediate thought of improving that position and ultimately ran out of time and ground. He went home in the safe knowledge that the Nunthorpe is not a race in which to employ aggressive waiting tactics. He was a never-better ninth.

Others had jumped more smartly to attention. Michael Hills, the trainer's son on La Cucaracha, was always in the warm belly of the field, waiting for the opportunity to uncork the effervescence beneath him. That moment arrived just inside the final furlong.

La Cucaracha dutifully popped through and then posed a little before denying The Tatling by a head. It was the third successive year that the seven-year-old had finished runner-up in this event. "I followed the pace and then it all opened about 20 yards earlier than I wanted but I had to take it. I had to take the gamble," Hills Jnr reported. "She has that burst of speed and I sent her on with as much momentum as I could. Then she put the brakes on. But there was enough to carry us to the line."

Globetrotting now awaits and La Cucaracha is already a consideration for the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in early December, when the beastly Silent Witness might be waiting for her.

There was a certain inevitability to the Lowther Stakes when Mick Channon turned up with a flying filly which had already won a Queen Mary at the royal meeting. He did it with Bint Allayl in 1998 and Queen's Logic four years ago and he did it again, successfully once again, with Flashy Wings yesterday. It is from here that Channon hopes the scripts will depart.

Bint Allayl broke a leg on the gallops one spring morning as she was being prepared for a Classic campaign, while injury and respiratory problems meant that Queen's Logic was never the same fleet animal as she had been during her first season. Flashy Wings herself was confirmed as favourite for next year's 1,000 Guineas and there is not much 10-1 left.

This was a most impressive victory. Flashy Wings, under a penalty, never had a moment's respite, out wide on the course with no lead to hide behind. Just over a furlong out, the chestnut filly and her market rival, La Chunga, settled down to determine the podium order. The 10-11 favourite proved to be as mercurial as her name might suggest.

"I think she'll be better ridden with a chance," Channon said. "Because we thought she was the best, we had a gun to our head a lot sooner then we would normally want. I'd love to have the balls to sit on her and just let things happen. She's always been special just like the other two. She's a high-class filly."

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