Racing: Pekan primed to keep Kremlin House on high

There is perhaps no more frightening name among racing's strongholds than Kremlin House, with its built-in image of cold austerity, yet no greater surprise when the front door opens at the Newmarket yard.

There is perhaps no more frightening name among racing's strongholds than Kremlin House, with its built-in image of cold austerity, yet no greater surprise when the front door opens at the Newmarket yard.

For on the carpet at the premises on the Fordham Road is Michael Jarvis, the town's longest-serving trainer and a man for whom the word avuncular was minted. Jarvis would appear in good spirits even if his goldfish had just died, so heaven knows what noises are wafting through the letter box as the deliveries are made this week.

Jarvis, at 65, has just enjoyed an extraordinary Royal Ascot with three winners, among them the mighty Rakti in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. A glorious season lies ahead for the nasty horse and even more immediately for the nice man, as big-race glory beckons for Jarvis once again this weekend when his Anak Pekan is likely to start favourite for the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.

This is the race alternatively referred to as the Pitmen's Derby, not in memory of a retired Jumps trainer but in memory of a band of forgotten people who used to go underground in search of a material called coal.

Anak Pekan's credentials are far more modern. He won the Queen's Prize at Kempton this season and then the Chester Cup by five lengths, victories which damaged his handicap mark first by 10lb and then by 11lb. Nevertheless, he remains the one feared in the richest two-mile handicap in europe.

"The horse is well and this has been his target since Chester," Jarvis said yesterday. "He's taken a huge leap in the handicap, but when they win as easily as he did at Chester you can't complain too much.

"The ground might be more of a concern. He's a sound horse and he's run quite well on fastish ground, but he's most effective on soft. It's rained up there a bit and more is forecast, so hopefully it will be decent. He should give a good account of himself."

While Anak Pekan is perhaps unsurprisingly in good nick, the same, unusually, can be said for most of the Kremlin House team which performed with distinction on the road surface in Berkshire last week. "We had nine runners and seven of those came back 100 per cent," Jarvis added.

One of the more tender, though, is Red Fort, who was jarred up during his victory in the Wolferton Stakes. Beware backing him for the John Smith's Cup at York next month.

Rakti is far too much of an ogre to get hurt by anything as simple as a race and is growlingly ready to go again. "He's a bully, a horse who wants you in his box for the least possible time," Jarvis said. "He doesn't mind you coming in with his feed, stroke his coat, a quick brush and put his rug on, but that's enough. He likes to show who's boss on the racecourse as well and if you see him in the paddock he pulls his poor lad [Bob McGonagle] around.

"He's on course for the Eclipse. There's huge prizes out there and when a horse is four and five that's when they're really at their peak. Horses mature quite a bit from three to four. There's that mileage on the clock and they know how to race. They're battle hardened."

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Lochbuie

(Salisbury 3.10)

NB: Red Birr

(Salisbury 4.40)

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