Racing: O'Neill Hopeful outshines big guns

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The Independent Online

The Group Two prize was fine justification in Fretwell's picking O'Neill from 72 applicants to take charge of his new racing venture at a private facility at Averham in Nottinghamshire. "It was a big gamble," said Fretwell, "but I had a gut feeling about him." Always Hopeful will now step up to the top level, in next month's Prix Morny at Deauville.

Mick Channon, who saddled the runner-up, Upper Hand, was already on the scoreboard courtesy of Majestic Desert in the Oak Tree Stakes. The four-year-old, beaten a short-head in the Cheveley Park Stakes in her youth, bounced back to her best and was far too good for her rivals as Ted Durcan sent her sweeping past Quickfire for an easy half-length success.

"It's taken us a while to get her right again," said Channon, "but she's won us £400,000 and I wish I had a yard full of ones like her."