Racing: Palace Episode crowns Ryan's dream season

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The Independent Online

Kevin Ryan yesterday woke up to the fact that his previously underestimated 80-strong string had achieved a feat performed only by inmates of the mighty yards of Henry Cecil (Diesis and Dunbeath), Dick Hern (Prince of Dance and Al Hareb), Peter Chapple-Hyam (Rodrigo di Triano and Dr Devious), André Fabre (Zeiten and Zafonic) and Aidan O'Brien (perm Johannesburg, Rock Of Gibraltar and Aristotle) in the last quarter-century.

The Yorkshire-based Irishman reported Palace Episode, hero of Saturday's Racing Post Trophy, in rude health yesterday after putting the prides of Mark Johnston's Kingsley House of Ballydoyle, and of Sir Michael Stoute's Freemason Lodge in their places on muddy Town Moor. "He knows he's been in a race," he said, "but he ate up everything when he got home, and has come out of it well. He's a tough little thing."

The four winners of the Doncaster feature before Palace Episode all won Classics, but bookmakers are universal in dismissing Palace Episode's brave effort. The son of Machiavellian is still available at 40-1 for Epsom; likewise stablemate Amadeus Wolf, who gave Ryan his first top-level success in last month's Middle Park Stakes, is at 20-1 for the 2,000 Guineas.

But Ryan, an level-headed ex-journeyman jump jockey, remains unruffled by the implied insult. This season has been his best-ever, with 75 winners and earnings just short of £1m.

"We at home have always been aware of Palace Episode," he added. "He's a very good horse who is entitled to go for very good races. He'll definitely stay a mile and a half and we'll just have to see how he matures over the winter. And if we think the Derby, or even the Guineas, will be for him, than maybe that's where we'll end up."

Michael Bell, trainer of this year's Derby winner Motivator, was equally phlegmatic as he reflected on his stable star's 11th-hour defection from the Breeders' Cup. The colt limped into early retirement on Saturday morning, a year to the day after bursting onto the élite scene in the Racing Post Trophy. "It is of course disappointing," he said, "but it would have been worse if he'd travelled to the States and it had happened there. It is not even a serious injury, one for rest rather than surgery." Motivator's Newmarket neighbours Starcraft and Akaased have arrived safe and well in New York ahead of their Breeders' Cup assignments at Belmont Park on Saturday. "They are a bit jet-lagged," said trainer Luca Cumani, "but the journey went smoothly and they won't take long to adjust."

There are eight races scheduled at the $14m (£8m) meeting; one man who would like nine is Hughie Morrison, whose charge Alcazar won the Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp yesterday. The 10-year-old's victory made him the equal-oldest Group One winner in history, alongside Yavana's Pace, successful in Germany three years ago. "There should be a Breeders' Cup race over two miles," he said. "These types of races are the real thing, the life and soul of racing."

This morning in Newmarket, the world's greatest used-horse mart gets under way. For the next four days, a cosmopolitan clientele will compete in the Tattersalls auction ring as training yards trade-in and offload. Previous bargains include Alkaased, picked up two years ago for 42,000 guineas and winner since of more than £300,000. Today's session features the Ballydoyle jumble sale; the cast-offs include three-year-old Wicklow, bought for 1,000,000 guineas as a yearling and as yet unraced.

Richard Edmondson

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