Racing: Muir hopeful of Ascot outsider Enforcer

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The Independent Online

Statistics say outsiders do not win King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and even the trainer of this year's long-shot does not claim that his charge will change that.

Only the Godolphin pacemaker will start at more rewarding odds than Enforcer in what may be one of the smallest fields on record of Ascot's great summer showpiece. But William Muir and the team at Linkslade Stables in Lambourn are counting the minutes until their hero steps out onto the hallowed turf.

"A horse like him is just wonderful for a small stable like ours," said Muir. "When Frankie Dettori rode him earlier in the year he said afterwards he was sure to win a Group One. I'm not going to say it will be this time, but he has absolutely earned his right to be there and one thing I do know is that he will not let us down. He wouldn't know how."

Enforcer, owned by businessmen Dennis Clarke and Clive Edgington, is another of the season's rags-to-riches tales; he had a price tag of 12,000 guineas as a yearling and has now earned £225,000. And he has already acquitted himself nobly on his sole try at the top level, when third in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

He was two and a half lengths adrift of Shirocco, and just half a length behind Ouija Board that day.

"It was implied that because we were so close, it can't have been a good race," said Muir, "but I think that is very harsh. We got closer to Shirocco than we'd been in the Jockey Club Stakes, the time Frankie rode him."

A year ago the progressive four-year-old was a high-class handicapper, with victories at the Derby meeting and at Glorious Goodwood.

The son of Efisio made the breakthrough into better company in a Group Three at Newmarket in October, the latest of his five wins from his 25 outings, and is now rated 116, short of the élite but not bad for a horse who was, like the class nerd, the last to be picked.

"I buy yearlings on spec," said Muir, "and show them off at the annual open day. I told everyone he was lovely, but no-one came forward and it was not until the March of his two-year-old career that he found his owners, the last one I sold."

Since his good run at Epsom, Enforcer has again finished third twice to two potential rivals on Saturday, to Maraahel in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and to Soapy Danger in the Princess Of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket. The last-named colt is not yet a certain starter and his absence would reduce the field to six; on only three occasions have fewer horses taken part. It would also make it only the third running with no three-year-old representation.

"Coming back to Ascot should suit ours," said Muir. "Maybe I'm clutching at straws looking for that last little bit of poundage, but I feel that running round turns isn't quite as testing. He's run better at slightly sharper tracks."

In 55 previous editions the longest-priced King George winner has been Montaval, who sprang a 20-1 surprise in 1957. Enforcer is currently at 33-1, with only Cherry Mix and Belenus, one of whom will act as hare for second favourite Electrocutionist, longer in the lists at 100-1.

"All right, he might not beat the best in the world," added Muir. "Shirocco is the best I've seen, and he's beaten us twice. But he's not there, and although Hurricane Run is very good, he is not without character issues. I certainly won't be afraid of taking on Maraahel or Soapy Danger again.

"He's in good shape, easy to train, a bit lazy, even, at home and he'll go on the ground. We rode him for the place money at Epsom and very nearly took second prize. But whatever happens on Saturday, we'll enjoy it, the occasion and the horse who's taken us there."

Kieren Fallon, Hurricane Run's hitherto regular jockey, will know today whether or not he can participate in the £750,000 12-furlong extravaganza or indeed the meanest all-weather banded contest on the domestic calendar in the immediate future. His appeal to the High Court against the suspension of his licence in this country by the sport's authorities pending his trial on conspiracy to defraud charges will be heard this morning.

Chris McGrath

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