Racing: Rule Of Law applies the finishing touch

St Leger: McEvoy's magnificent ride keeps Godolphin colt going long enough to deny Fallon's filly in home straight
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The Independent Online

One of the factors that the decriers of the St Leger often forget is that an integral part of this sport is the spectacle that it provides. And the throng that flocked here yesterday to see the 228th running of the world's oldest, longest and toughest Classic would have to go a long way before they saw a better exposition of that aspect.

One of the factors that the decriers of the St Leger often forget is that an integral part of this sport is the spectacle that it provides. And the throng that flocked here yesterday to see the 228th running of the world's oldest, longest and toughest Classic would have to go a long way before they saw a better exposition of that aspect.

Kerrin McEvoy's front-running ride to win on Rule Of Law was, simply, a masterclass and the colt's determination under fire to repel Quiff by a head a testament to the courage and competitive spirit of the thoroughbred.

The Town Moor straight, more than half a mile long, is no place for the faint-hearted, especially in front, especially with a blustery headwind. Rule Of Law, runner-up in The Derby, was into unknown territory as far as distance was concerned once he hit the mile-and-a-half point. He was being harried by Mikado, Maraahel was drawing closer with giant strides and any weakness of stamina or resolution would have been ruthlessly exposed.

But McEvoy knew what reserves were left, and that they were enough, just, to last the mile-and-three-quarters. He kept asking, Rule Of Law kept answering. Kieren Fallon had, on Quiff, cunningly used the leaders as a windbreak and, once pulled out and released going to the final furlong, the daughter of Sadler's Wells proved nearly good enough to become the 42nd distaffer to take this prize.

But only nearly, for the little bay colt, though dwarfed by the tall, white-faced presence alongside, was always her master and once again, after 19 attempts, the St Leger eluded the filly's trainer Sir Michael Stoute. The best of the Ballydoyle trio was Tycoon, who finished strongly but too late under Darryll Holland to claim third, a length and a half adrift, followed by Maraahel, Mikado and Darsalam an honourable sixth.

Rule Of Law provided Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team with their fourth St Leger, after Classic Cliche, Nedawi and Mutafaweq. McEvoy, 23, was head-hunted by the Dubai-based blues as No 2 to Frankie Dettori at the start of the year after a meteoric career in his native Australia, which included him being one of the youngest riders ever to take the Melbourne Cup when he did so on Brew four years ago.

McEvoy's record in British Classics now reads rather well: a win and two seconds (he was on Rule Of Law at Epsom and Sundrop in the 1,000 Guineas) from four goes. "This is heaven," he declared with a broad smile as he donned the famous oversized St Leger cap that the winning rider traditionally wears post-victory. "I hadn't really wanted to make the running as it was so windy out there, but they left me in front, so I decided it would be best to get him settled and into a rhythm. I began to quicken up the tempo in the straight and two furlongs out my horse just put his head down and fought. The winning post seemed a long way away and I was running out of petrol but Rule Of Law was not going to let them past."

The Kingmambo colt has now earned a rest until next season, when he will be campaigned over middle, rather than extreme, distances.

His Godolphin stablemate Doyen remains favourite for next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe despite his defeat in yesterday's Irish Champion Stakes under Dettori. The four-year-old beat only his pacemaker, Millstreet, as Azamour mugged Norse Dancer close to home to take the Leopardstown 10-furlong contest by half a length, with Powerscourt third and Grey Swallow fourth. "That was disappointing," admitted Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford. "I don't think it was the drop back in distance. He ran very flat."

In the day's third top-level event, the following Matron Stakes, the James Fanshawe-trained Soviet Song, with Johnny Murtagh in the saddle, confirmed her superiority over Attraction by half a length, with Phantom Wind's third place making it a clean sweep for the British raiders.

Notwithstanding yesterday's events in Ireland, history and the formbooks say that the winner of the Arc will be giving the turf a test-run this afternoon at Longchamp, where three trials for assorted ages and sexes take place over the full distance of next month's extravaganza. By far the most informative has been the Prix Niel for three-year-old males, which has spotlighted eight of the past 10 Arc winners; in today's renewal, Bagotakes on seven rivals, including the first three in the French Derby; Blue Canari, Prospect Park and Valixir.

The equivalent filly race, the Prix Vermeille, a Group One prize in is own right, features the brilliant French Oaks heroine Latice, four from four over shorter distances with proven stayer Lune d'Or, going for a four-timer, perceived as the chief threat among the 13 runners.

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